If you’ve fully released the hurts and grievances that you have against your spouse to God (as mentioned in my previous post – 3 Steps to Release Yourself from Resentment), then I can promise that you will feel better. That’s because I’ve gone through the forgiveness process many, many times with a myriad of people in my life, including my husband, and I know full well the relief that it brings.
But, remember, it will not wipe away all of your pain, and certainly not all of your conflict. In fact, it may be that you’ll experience more conflict with your spouse, at least for a while, because you’ve forgiven them and changed. And change is scary for people, especially people who are in pain or denial.
If you and your spouse are not on the same page about forgiving one another, then you can count on the fact that your spouse will challenge your new forgiving attitude. Your spouse will see the changes in you and want to bring you back down to his or her “unforgiving” level. Remember, “misery loves company” and this is never more true than with a spouse who was and is still very angry.
On the brighter side, forgiveness of your spouse will improve and deepen your relationship with God. It will also improve your attitude toward your spouse. You will even feel God giving you a desire to extend grace to your spouse.
However, as you extend grace, you may feel the temptation to be angry with your spouse for not appreciating your efforts or reciprocating. Don’t go there! Remember, forgiveness is not about your spouse, but about you having a clean heart before God and finding healing.
Speaking of healing, that’s another benefit of forgiveness. You will feel healthier, stronger and more positive in all aspects of your life.
One word of warning: Don’t expect forgiveness to eliminate all anger or need for further introspection, prayer and forgiveness. Married life is never easy, even with a healthy spouse, so don’t expect forgiveness to be a one time shot. It’s a little like cleaning your house. You wouldn’t expect that cleaning it once would keep it from accumulating dust, clutter and disorder ever again. Messes happen, especially in marriage—but thankfully, forgiveness helps to clean them up!