“Unless couples CREATE compatibility THROUGHOUT their marriage, the compatibility they had at the time of their wedding will be destroyed.” (Willard Harley) And this includes giving forgiveness in marriage.
Compatibility has to be continually worked on so it isn’t destroyed by the hassles that barge into our lives everyday.
“The rigors of everyday life will take a toll on even the best of marriage relationships. Often the only way to handle the frustration of being hurt by the one you love is to master the process of forgiveness.” (Bill and Pam Farrel)
On that note, we’ll share an article written by Julie Baumgardner. It was part of a series of articles she wrote titled, “On Marriage,” featured in the Chattanooga Free Press. (It is also posted in its entirety on the Smartmarriages.com web site.) Then we’ll then share a few closing thoughts on the subject. This particular article is entitled:
Forgiveness in Marriage
“‘Every time Mark and I would fight we’d always say we were sorry,’ said Mrs. Lori Kuebler. ‘Not that we really meant it. A lot of times I think we would say we forgive, but whatever happened was still in the back of our minds.’ According to relationship expert Michele Weiner-Davis, the Kueblers struggle to forgive is something many couples grapple with.
“‘I’ve worked with so many couples who say they want to heal their relationships, but struggle with being able to forgive each other,’ said Ms. Weiner-Davis. ‘When they’re offered tools to help them get past hurtful incidents, they can’t seem to move forward. They refuse to let go of grudges or give up score keeping. They replay these grievances over and over. And they’re so busy rehashing that they don’t take in the information about forgiveness. That is because they’re so intent on being right. Their negative thoughts dominate their thinking.
“‘No matter what they’re doing, the scoreboard’s never too far from the surface. This type of behavior’s extremely destructive to a marriage relationship. Lack of forgiveness casts a shadow over everything. When you view life through the lenses of unforgiveness, your life becomes in essence like a black and white photo instead of living color.’
Forgive and Forget?
“The usual objections Mrs. Weiner-Davis hears about forgiveness are, ‘If I forgive it will send a message that I condone the behavior.’ Or ‘I can’t trust forgive and forget.’
“‘When I talk with couples I emphasize the fact that forgiveness isn’t about condoning or forgetting,’ said Mrs. Weiner-Davis. ‘What separates us from animals is the ability to think. I believe it’s very important that we don’t forget that. We can learn from mistakes. You’ll probably always remember the particular injustice/s that drove you into your corner. But what will happen is that when you forgive, the intense emotions associated with the events begin to fade.’
Struggle with Unforgiveness in Marriage?
“If you struggle with unforgiveness in your marriage relationship Ms. Davis suggests you consider the following:
• “Start out with some self-scrutiny. If you can honestly say that you’ve never made a mistake then hold on to the grudge. No one’s perfect. On the other end of things, some people who are very hard on themselves are hard on those around them. People need to be more loving and compassionate toward themselves and others.
• “For some people, it’s necessary to hear ‘I’m sorry’ from their spouse. If that’s what you need, say so and graciously accept the apology. If you have to ask for the apology that doesn’t mean the apology is second rate.
• “Holding on to a grudges wastes precious time and energy. It’s exhausting to feel resentment day in and day out. It’s bad for your health and hard on your spirit.
Don’t Wait For Forgiveness to Just Happen.
“‘Life’s too short to stand around waiting for forgiveness to just happen,’ said Ms. Weiner-Davis. ‘Decide to forgive and move on and you’ll create a ripple effect of exponential changes in your life.’
“For the Kuebler’s, forgiveness has been the key to making their marriage work. ‘When we separated I was involved in a Bible study at my church called ‘Lord, Change Me’,’ said Mrs. Kuebler. ‘That was when I finally realized I had to swallow my pride. Instead of looking at all of the things Mark needed to do to make our marriage better, I needed to focus on changing me. That was when I came to the conclusion that it was truly time to forgive and move on. If I change — then gradually things in our marriage will change.”
Ripples of Unforgiveness
We hope you really take all of this to heart for the health of your marriage. As someone once said, “If you can’t forgive your husband, forgive the father of your children.” And that’s the cry of our hearts. When we fail to forgive, it affects not only us—but also everyone around us (including our precious children).
It’s like throwing a pebble into a pool of water. Many ripples come out of it. As we’re told in the Bible, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12:15) The following are additional thoughts that may help you as you come upon the difficult challenge of learning how to continually forgive each other in marriage.
• “The plain truth is that it’s impossible for two human beings to live together for any length of time and not hurt each other. All too often life gets in the way of living. If the struggles of marriage were isolated to the minor irritations that come along with being imperfect, we would probably all have great marriages. But minor irritations can grow into major problems. And major infractions can break your heart.
“Sometimes the mistreatment you’ve experienced from others in your past creates patterns in your own behavior that hinder your current relationship. If any of the following destructive forces have invaded your marriage, only forgiveness will open the door to healing. (Bill and Pam Farrel, “Love, Honor, and Forgive”)
• “Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontentment. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time.(The Message – Eugene Peterson – Hebrews 12:15)
• “When forgiveness is necessary, don’t wait too long. We must begin to forgive. Because without forgiving, we choke off our own joy. We kill our own soul. People carrying hate and resentment can invest themselves so deeply in that resentment that they gradually define themselves in terms of it. (Lewis B. Smedes, “Forgive and Forget… Healing the Hurts We Don’t Deserve”)
• If you don’t forgive your spouse, you become stuck in bitterness and don’t grow beyond it. It stunts your growth in other areas of your life. It also drains you of the energy you could invest in other areas of improving your marriage and your relationship with the Lord.
• “In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part. (The Message — Eugene Peterson — Matthew 6:14)
• “Human emotions have often been divided into 3 basic areas: love, fear, and hostility. Love is a feeling that moves us toward a person, place or thing. Fear moves us away from something or someone. Hostility is a feeling against the person, place, or thing. (Dr. Gary Chapman)
• “We should note that a one-time confession of bitterness may not alleviate all hostile feelings. If the bitterness has been there a long time, the feelings that accompany the bitter attitude may die slowly. What do you do when thoughts and feelings of anger return? Acknowledge those thoughts and feelings to God and affirm your commitment to forgive.
An appropriate prayer might be:
“Father, You know my thoughts and feelings. But I thank You that with Your help, I will no longer hold those things against my spouse. Now help me as I move out to be an agent of Your love.”
“Forgiveness will need to be a daily discipline. And you must refuse to harbor resentment. As you practice forgiveness, the angry, bitter thoughts and feelings will occur less and less. Once freed from bitterness, we are challenged to ‘be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Be imitators of God’ (Ephesians 4:32-5:1).
We must not stop with acknowledging our bitterness and accepting God’s forgiveness. We must also forgive our spouses for those things that originally brought anger to the surface. God is not only concerned that we be freed from anger. But He is concerned that we be agents of love and kindness.” (Dr. Gary Chapman, “Hope for the Separated”)
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Colossians 3:12-14)
— ALSO —
The following link will take you to an article that is written by Nicki Koziaz, which is posted at Crosswalk.com. We encourage you to read:
More from Marriage Missions
Filed under: Bitterness and Forgiveness
9 responses to “Forgiveness In Marriage”
(USA) I don’t know how to talk to my husband when I feel taken advantage of. I feel I’ve lost who I am, and all I am is a wife and mother with no say in anything anymore. I work and all my money is for the family. I wake and all my time is theirs. I resent it and feel unappreciated. I don’t know how to get past it.
(USA) Hi Misty, I’m sorry to hear how your life is affecting your attitude. I can certainly relate. It takes time to adjust to motherhood.
I don’t know how/if your husband takes up the slack with house chores and/or children if you are working (and I assume he is as well). But I’m struck by a lot of comments that come to this website of working women.
The following verse always comes to mind: Titus 2:5 I truly wish all women were staying at home not only because it’s biblical but also because the other types of comments I read are of marriages suffering from infidelity, usually because a husband or wife met someone of the opposite sex at work and then became unfaithful to their marriage with that person. (I’m not saying that’s you, of course, but it is some people on this website and I use the example to demonstrate a point.)
So….for the 2 reasons above I believe it is better for people to slip into the roles God designed for them (and I’m sure there are other reasons as well). The problem with a lot of societies, however, is that after women’s lib (or because of the influence of communism) – all of a sudden we have women working and everyone thinks it’s impossible to have an alternate arrangement.
I have trouble reconciling the cost of childcare (esp. if you have more than one) with the menial wages most women are earning. Unless someone has a master’s degree or is a corporate manager, I can’t see the money earned as being enough to make up for the additional cost (gas, childcare, etc.) that 2 spouses working creates not to mention all the non-monetary problems that it causes, like the ones you describe. My neighbor stays home and they said when they started having kids, the reason they chose that is they took a simple look at the books and saw it was not financially beneficial to have both of them working.
But it’s become a way of life in this country and so many others and it’s hard to convince people to even sit down and take a look at the finances and see if it wouldn’t be more cost efficient for the wife to stay home (even though it would probably take a little bit of lifestyle tweaking).
I simply wanted to share my thoughts and the above verse with you. I wanted to suggest to you to consider, prayerfully, the thoughts I’ve shared but then also go to God and ask Him what He thinks. If you have asked and God hasn’t allowed you the circumstances to stay home, then perhaps it’s not His will. However, if you haven’t asked at all, about the situation and what your course of action should be, then that should be your next move. Start praying or even fasting, if necessary, to find out what the solution is. And, of course, pray for God to take the bitterness.
I wake on many days and find I need to have God give me an extra jolt of joy and/or positive outlook because it’s not there on some days and God is my only way of getting that.
The last suggestion I wanted to make, to help keep you from burnout, is to either ask your husband to stay home one evening a week so that you can go out by yourself or with friends. OR – there are a lot of daycare centers that offer mom’s day out or parents’ night out on a weekend night so you might want to check into those as well.
Please know that God loves you and keep your chin up in God and your faith strong. With love and prayers, LT
(UNITED KINGDOM, LONDON) I’m writing this in the hope that there may be someone out there who understands what I’m going through.
In August, on my second wedding anniversary, my husband confessed to me that he had a sexual addiction (although he didn’t realise what it was at the time). He told me that on 3 separate occasions he had gone into men’s public toilets and had oral sex performed on him by strangers. The final time before he confessed, was on his oldest brother’s wedding day while I was at the reception with our two daughters, and he had gone to get some baby food for our youngest child. I then discovered the full story about his pornography addiction, porn movies etc.
We’ve been together for almost 5 years and have been married for just over two years. His confession has completely destroyed me. His actions, but most of all his lies, have ripped us apart and I’m really struggling to find a way through this and I just don’t know if our marriage will survive.
He’s recently become a Christian and is growing in his faith. He’s getting all the help available to him, attending a course at our church and seeing his counselor who runs the living waters course which he’s doing. I can see the change in him but I’m so ashamed and disgusted by what he did. He’s also destroyed the joy I had on our wedding day because I will never remember that wonderful day, just his confession.
I feel terrible within myself. In my head I know I’m not to blame for the things he did. But in my heart I feel that I was not enough for him and neither were our children. He claims to love me more than anything in this world but my heart is really struggling to believe this. He says he is not gay because he does not find men attractive and has no desires to be with a man. It only happened with men because it was so easy to get that sexual thrill through his orgasms, which came from the oral sex.
Just writing this is turning my stomach, I’ve always thought I was a strong person. Everyone important to me has always betrayed, even family. My husband knew this and I’d told him the importance of honesty to me and trust. I never thought he would do such a thing. The person who should be my back bone, to love and protect me is the one who has completely destroyed me and the life we have. It feels like everything has been a lie and I do not trust him.
I’ve always had trust issues and I worked so hard to get through them for the sake of our relationship, and he’s just proved that everything I ever thought was right, I want to leave and run a million miles away. But I can not do that to our children because they love him and he loves them.
I’m so fearful that everything he’s doing now is just an act to keep me here, when really behind my back, he’s getting up to even more things.
If anyone has an advice for me, please let me know. I know that God has plans for each of us and things happen for a reason and that God would not give us things we can not handle. But I’m beginning to think that perhaps God’s plan for me is a life of constant suffering so that I can be an example to others that you suffer but you just have to keep on going. I have to survive because my girls need me.
(SOUTH AFRICA) I find it very difficult to forgive my husband after what he has done to me. When my baby of 6 yrs was 3 days old he left me for his ex-girlfriend. I prayed so hard every night for him to come back and he did. Things were fine until last year when he got a job. He left me again for the same person and now he wants back again. I really don’t know how I get this out of my head. Every time I’m with him I get so angry at him and ask myself if it really is worth giving this marriage a try. We went for Christian Councelling twice and everytime we go he promise to love me and not hurt me again but he just forgets and just goes ahead hurting. He went to an extent of filling for divorce and served me with Deeds of Settlement after everything we’d been through. How do I forgive him and starts from scratch?
(ZAMBIA) I have been with my husband for 6 & a half years, married for 4 & a half and have so much anger and resentment towards him. When we met he was on holiday from school, we fell in love and he never went back. I had just finished my degree. He promised me that he would finish school. Little did I know he had gone through about 3 colleges and never finished.
I started working and he wasn’t doing much. He moved in with me at the flat. At the time it didn’t bother me cos we were madly in love and he was my best friend in the whole world. About 18 months later I got pregnant and we decided to get married. He promised he would get a job and sort himself out. 4 years later that still hasn’t happened.
We now have 2 girls and I am so resentful and angry that I am the breadwinner. In the last 3 years years, he has been verbally and physically abusive, hes left the house & come back 2 days later. He goes out and comes back in the morning. He doesn’t work. All the money he makes he drinks. He never brings home any groceries, buys anything for the kids and I’m so fed up. With everything that he has done I am so hurt.
In turn, I have found that I have retaliated and I don’t like that about myself. I am so confused and am asking God if this is really the plan for my life? To be unhappy? I know sometimes he acts the way he does because of the way he feels about himself and he uses me as his punching bag. I’ve been to the pastor several times and all he tells me to do is pray and that things are not that bad.
I don’t even like my husband anymore and I’m pretty sure I’m not in love with him any more. When he is confronted with the truth he gets angry. He still expects me to respect him, love him and give him sex whenever he wants. How can I be initmate with someone I don’t even like?! I think the best thing for me to do is leave him. I don’t see what good this is doing.
In the last few years I’ve grown more and more angry, bitter and resentful and I realise it’s not making me a nice person. I drink everyday just to escape the pain that is my life. I have no time and patience for my kids because I’m always upset. It’s agony. If someone has advice for me please reply, I’m desperate!
(MALAYSIA) My husband’s work always take him outstation. This has been going on for two decades. We have had numerous quarrels but always end up together. I do have a number of grudges and frustrations which usually crop up during arguements.
Recently, I realized he has a separate facebook account with many friends. He usually communicates (mostly women) about songs and light conversations (this I found out by sneaking). When I confronted him, he said it was nothing serious, just trivial matters and that he will never be unfaithful to me. Somehow, I feel betrayed. But I believe he will be true to me. I wish I could just let it be and not feel insecure and alienated. Please advise.
(SA) Ok, I have read this article and have being giving it serious thought for a while, forgiveness is very important yes, but to get through a difficult situation forgiveness is not just enough. Reality has it that you can easily forgive a person but still resent that person. The reason for this being, that even if you forgive the person you must still deal with the issue at hand because forgiveness is not the only part to dealing with something painful that has happened to you.
Example, if your spouse hurts you, let’s say by saying you don’t look good, you can forgive him for that easily but then you haven’t dealt with the issue, so you need to also confront the person hurting you about issue.
I have experienced this painful ordeal in my marriage many times where my spuse will do something terrible to me. Everybody will say forgive him and quote me many scriptures from the Bible about forgiveness. I forgive him; a week later he does the same thing again. Up to a point, where for 2 days I feel like a nothing in my life because I’m expected to forgive and never bring the topic up. Meanwhile it keeps happening.
(USA) You’re right, KG, in realizing that forgiving someone doesn’t mean the situation itself is reconciled. That’s a separate step (sometimes dealt with at the same time… sometimes not). You need to still find ways to respectfully talk with your husband about what has hurt you. If you eventually feel that you need to establish certain boundaries, in order to protect yourself from future hurt, because your husband isn’t protecting you, then do so. It would be sad, but it may be necessary. (The book, Boundaries in Marriage would be a good one to read and use for guidelines.)
Forgiveness is not an easy or cheap action to give someone who has hurt you. It’s difficult to give, when you’ve been deeply hurt. Somehow you need to convey this to your husband. You may even tell him that you need him to be your hero and protect your feelings more. However, giving him your forgiveness does not mean that you must let down your guard in thinking it might not happen again. If he won’t be your hero, then you will need to find ways to better protect yourself and/or your feelings.
Prayerfully read through the quotes given in the “Bitterness and Forgiveness” topic. Ask God to teach you what true forgiveness is all about. It doesn’t mean that you have to subject yourself to the same hurt over and over again. You CAN look for ways to protect yourself.
Ask God to give you an extra dose of insight into why your husband does what he does, and/or if you are just being too sensitive. Ask Him to show you how to deal with the problems you’re having with your husband, to hopefully prevent having to be in the place of giving forgiveness to him, when he just doesn’t seem to understand how much his actions hurt. In marriage, we will inevitably hurt each other. It happens. But repetitively hurting a spouse in the same way, shows that there is a disconnect in understanding and compassion. Something has to change or these actions will chink away at your relationship. I hope you are able to work through these problems with your husband. I pray God’s best for you and your marriage.
(PHILIPPINES) I want to seek forgiveness from my husband. I know I did him wrong by choosing another man. My reasons are not valid for such actions but it was never a sexual reasons at all. I just wanted someone to talk to about my dreams and ambitions that I never got from my husband. I am really, deeply sorry for the mistakes I’ve made. I hope I can get a chance in telling these words to him. But he already refuses. Though I want to fix the mess I made, I am willing to let him go if he’s not happy with me anymore so that he could be happier in the right woman for him. I hope this would find him.