The Art of Forgiving Your Spouse [Fast, Frequently, and Forever]
Our first year of marriage was not blissful or beautiful, sweet or serene. One could describe it as passionate, I guess… because we were passionately aggravated with one another a good deal of the time.
You see, we were both pretty stubborn people: me, in a passive-aggressive kind of way; him, in an annoyingly assertive manner. Complicating matters was his introverted tendency to stay quiet during an argument and my extroverted propensity to spew words all over everything.
Sparks flew; people got burned. And then silence ensued… sometimes for days.
Sounds fun, doesn’t it? NOT.
We’ve been married almost a quarter of a century now, and we still talk about that horrid first year, marveling over how we ever made it through!
Can anyone relate to what I am saying?!
I’m happy to report that with God’s grace and ever-patient assistance, we’ve gone far beyond “just making it through.” We’ve grown deeper in love and smarter in how we deal with one another’s shortcomings. I’d say much of our intimacy is the direct result of how we’ve learned the art of forgiving fast, frequently, and forever.
It used to be that if my husband would say or do something hurtful, I’d hold it against him for days. I’m such a gem. What I came to realize is that 9 times out of 10, he wasn’t even cognizant of hurting my feelings. Whaaaaat? True. Story.
I would seriously not speak to him, and after a day or two, his introverted self (who was probably really enjoying the silence from the typical barrage of my words) would say, “Is something wrong?” and I would let the floodgates fly. wide. open. I’m telling you, I was such. a. treat.
Now, though? If he hurts my feelings or if I hurt his? We are quick to recognize the pain we’ve caused, quick to say, “I’m sorry for hurting your feelings. Will you please forgive me?” and quick to say, wholeheartedly, “Yes! I forgive you!”
Because you know what? Ain’t nobody got time for the three-day silent treatment!
After almost 25 years of marriage, we understand that we are perpetually imperfect people who sometimes snip at one another for no other reason than the day has been long, the strain has been hard to bear, and we’re simply tired. When those moments come — and they come often, can I get an amen? — we blow off one another’s snarky behavior, snuggle in close anyway, and literally feel the fight drain away.
Because here’s the thing: In the end, my husband is FOR me, not against me; and I am FOR him, not against him. Paul says it better: “If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace everyone.” (Romans 12:18) That includes our spouse, too!
I’m embarrassed to say that I’m not the best at this one, but I’m learning! I’m quick to forgive, and I do it frequently, but there is this sneaky, sinful part of me that brings up my husband’s past offenses, and there is nothing that adds more fuel to the fire.
Thankfully, I have a man who is no less than STELLAR in this area. Not once can I remember a time when he has reached into our past to pull out a “gotcha” during an argument. Not. Once. He is great at seemingly forgetting all the yuck, and he certainly never colors the present with it.
Like God, who literally “blots out [our] transgressions” and doesn’t even “remember [our] sins,” we should strive hard to forget our spouse’s transgressions… forever.
So my advice to growing better in marriage? Learn well the art of forgiving fast, frequently, and forever!
Gifted with one beautiful daughter for her tenth wedding anniversary and another for her twentieth, high school English teacher turned homeschooling mom Rhonda Owens is passionate about the Word. She loves nothing more than to study it, talk about it, write about it, apply it, live it and teach it… all preferably accompanied by deep community and good chocolate. Exploring with husband Mitchell and her two girls is a favorite pastime, and you might find them snorkeling, hiking, or kayaking in a remote corner of God’s world — or simply walking in the woods behind their home in little Bryan, Ohio. Co-author (with her husband Mitchell) of the book Undivided: Living FOR and Not Just WITH One Another, her writing can also be discovered at the newly launched MitchellAndRhonda.com