Creating a confessional culture in your marriage should be developed with both discernment and timing in mind. Like most changes you want to make in life or marriage, you must go slowly and strategically, unless you are prepared for the entire effort to backfire on you!
This is especially true if your spouse is not on-board with creating a “confessional culture”—which I’d say is probably the majority of marriages! No amount of persuading through words or pressure will bring your spouse around. In fact, the opposite will almost certainly occur!
Your biggest influence on your mate in that kind of scenario is to be committed to leading out!
[Tweet “A confessional culture requires a commitment to apologize especially when your mate does not!”]
I think it’s important to note that Christ was very sensitive to God’s timing in all He did. In fact, in Matthew 12:15ff, we see where He withdrew from a conflict because the timing was not right and the approach to the conflict would not have demonstrated humility.
When NOT to Confess and Apologize to Your Mate
- When you’re still very upset and resistant to seeing your part in a conflict.
Just don’t let this linger as your excuse! Be quick about pursuing God’s examination of your role in the conflict.
- When you’re confused about what your negative contribution is.
- When you’re doing it for the purpose of eliciting an apology from your spouse.
- When you’re doing it for the purpose of pacifying your spouse’s anger.
- When you’ve already sincerely apologized “recently” but your mate, for whatever reason, refuses to accept your apology.
There’s no need to try and convince with apology upon apology. Your willingness to “live out your confession” is more than enough persuasion for your mate in this case.
Remember . . .
[Tweet “”All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ …” ~Mt. 5:37a #liveoutyourchange”]
When You SHOULD Confess and Apologize to Your Mate
- After praying and finding God’s clarity and conviction of your part of the conflict.
Prayer should always be the first “go-to” posture you take when facing a conflict. Let the moment you feel that tension in your relationship be your cue to pray for insight and humbleness.
- When you are sorry for how your spouse has perceived and felt a hurt.
This means you should apologize even if you didn’t do something wrong, but your spouse perceived that it was wrong! This also means apologizing for when you did something unintentionally and your spouse truly was hurt by it. The motive behind the hurt does not matter as much as the impact your spouse felt.
- When your relationship with your mate feels wounded and contemptuous because of long-standing issues and offenses.
You may feel like you’ve apologized or admitted your part in the past, but sometimes you might need to revisit this—especially when it’s been a while since you specifically apologized for your part. This is about reminding your mate of your remorse over the hurt you’ve contributed, in case your mate has forgotten or felt that you’ve returned to this behavior in some way. Better to be safe than “sorry” when there is any doubt of your contrition.
I know what I’m sharing—no matter how clearly it is laid out—is difficult, risky and painful, especially in wounded marriages. But . . .
[Tweet “Confession is one of the primary ways Christ heals our wounds.”]
What would you add to my lists?
When and how have these considerations—”timing and discernment”—proved to be essential and helpful in extending an apology to your mate or others?
If you’re interested in accountability and support from MM, consider joining the C.A.M. Club or “Confession & Apology in Marriage” Club. Click here to go to the Facebook page for this group. Click here for details on MM!
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