04 May How to Forgive in Marriage
Learning how to forgive is not only the key to Emotional Intimacy, it is the key to life! In love relationships it is an absolute necessity, because heartache is inevitable when you have romantic love! When we are in love with someone we open our hearts and become emotionally vulnerable. Even one unguarded or unkind word from our husband or wife can cause a great wound to our hearts! If you don’t want a broken heart, don’t love. However, if you want the marriage you’ve always dreamed of, learning how to forgive is indispensable.
The adage, “To err is human; to forgive is divine,” reminds us that to forgive is what God does best! Forgiveness originated with Him: it follows that as we forgive better, we become more like Him. Regardless, forgiveness is difficult.
A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.
-Ruth Bell Graham
Forgiveness seems easy until,
- Your wife has an affair with your best friend, and they have been hiding it from you for six months.
- You discover your husband has an addiction to internet pornography, and has been fired because his boss found him spending time on porn sites at work.
- You feel your husband no longer considers your marriage a priority, and is spending more and more time immersed in work.
- Your wife doesn’t seem to understand your sexual needs, and your attempts to initiate sex are often rejected, causing frustration and feelings of rejection.
Expressions of Emotions
Although learning how to forgive is the key to emotional health and intimacy, before we can forgive, we must have opportunity to express how we feel (within the parameters of what is appropriate, of course)!
- Grief, anger, feelings of rejection, disbelief, or shock need to be spoken out, so your spouse can understand and feel the hurt from within your heart.
- Remorse and repentance for offences, sin, oversight, or lack of sensitivity need to be verbalized clearly without rationalization or excuse. We must take ownership.
Giving and Asking Forgiveness
For those who have been hurt by another, we must forgive fully—not because we feel like it, but because we choose to do it. The Bible says, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32). However, forgiving someone doesn’t mean everything returns to as it was before—that would require restoration, and demands attitudes and actions accompanying repentance on the part of the offender.
In asking for forgiveness, be clear and specific—what did you do that needs forgiveness? Do not shift blame! Take full responsibility! DON’T say,
- “If I have hurt you…” How lame is that!! There is no remorse expressed! The word “IF” is a conditional word. “If I hurt you” means, “I really don’t think I hurt you, but I’m such a nice guy, if you think I did, I’ll say sorry.” Well, of course you hurt them!!
- “I’m sorry”. What are you sorry for? Are you sorry you got caught? Are you sorry your husband got upset when you lied? This isn’t good enough; it does not convey an attitude of repentance! I strongly suggest the wording for asking forgiveness is simply,
“Would you please forgive me for_______________?” (specifically name the action requiring forgiveness).
Guarding Your Heart
Forgiveness is a choice, not an emotion; because we don’t feel like we are able to forgive really doesn’t matter: we decide to forgive. After we come to the place where we consciously choose to forgive, many emotions will continue to flood our hearts and mind, renewing feelings of rejection, hurt, and pain. Learning how to forgive at this point, means we have a working strategy of forgiveness. This strategy leads us to authentic emotional freedom by
- Fighting off competing emotions that bring back memories of the hurt.
- Planting forgiveness deeper into our being
The Three Steps to Forgiveness
After you have decided to forgive, you may experience the wrestling and turmoil of emotions. Follow these three steps:
- Recite Forgiveness Scripture
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32) Forgiveness starts with God; the first step is the declaration of truth.
- Personalize the Forgiveness Scripture
Now make this truth your own, by inserting personal facts into the verse: “Help me Lord to be kind to my husband, forgiving him for his sin against me, because you have forgiven every one of my sins!”
- Pray for an Un-Saved Loved One Needing Forgiveness
Now we pray for another person (always pray for the same person—until the prayer is answered!).“Lord Jesus, I also pray for ______; I’m asking you to reveal yourself to him, so that he can experience the forgiveness of all of his sins too!
These three steps provide a way of conquering all of the negative and contrary emotions that fight against forgiveness. Learning how to forgive includes implementing a strategy to think properly.