Okay, my title is a cleverly disguised attempt at “word-management.” Actually, what I really meant to say is, “How to Forgive Your Spouse” because … let’s be honest folks, our spouses offend us A LOT!
- We ask our spouse to pick up his/her dirty clothes and our spouse nods with agreement, but what do we find the very next day lying in our path to the bathroom? Ugh!
- We feel misunderstood and rejected when we try to tell our spouse something that took so much courage just to say.
- We are excited to greet our spouse at the end of the day when he/she blasts us with a critical remark or irritated tone that cuts through our “loving feelings” like a razorblade.
- We hoped our spouse would recognize the difficulty we were experiencing in a certain area and lend a helping hand or an empathetic response, but instead we get ignored or worse—blamed for being in a bad mood.
- We apologized for something we did and our spouse chooses to rub our nose in it or … get us back.
Do any of these scenarios sound familiar? I could’ve gone on, but I think you get the idea. And don’t think you’re off the hook either! We ALL offend our spouses A LOT as well. My husband and I have experienced or acted like each and every one of the above scenarios from time to time with each other.
So how do you keep the loving flame burning, instead of being burned or consumed by the fires of resentment?
As a counselor, I’ve studied forgiveness and worked with clients, as well as, working on my own heart in this area for years. When I’m counseling I try to help the client to achieve emotional forgiveness, which is helpful and often necessary. But when it comes to continual offenses … you must add another strategy to your toolkit.
You must decide to forgive.
The decision to forgive is powered by your faith in God. You trust that God will protect you and provide for your needs in the face of rejection from your spouse.
It’s not easy.
It’s a painful surrendering or dying to self, but the release God gives is incredible as we trust Him.
Another factor to keep in mind, like the many offenses, your decision to forgive must be continual. So every time your offender/spouse offends you, you must decide to forgive and release it to God.
It’s sort of like brushing your teeth. You wouldn’t think that just one brushing on one particular day would protect you from bad breath or decaying teeth for the rest of your life, would you? Forgiveness must be granted moment by moment, offense by offense, or we will experience emotional and relational decay, resulting in a “bad heart.”
I think this is what Jesus had in mind when Peter asked him …
“‘Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?’”
“‘No, not seven times,’ Jesus replied, ‘but seventy times seven!’” Matthew 18:21-22 (NLT)
It may be hard, but it will be harder if we don’t extend the grace to our spouses that God so overwhelmingly extends to us.
Photo credit by h3h (Flickr)
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