Why forgiveness is key to a strong marriage
Arguments and misunderstandings are bound to happen in a marriage, which is why learning how to apologize for transgressions and forgiving is key to a strong marriage.
In marriage, forgiveness is key. We all make mistakes and it is crucial to seek forgiveness if you believe you have wronged your spouse in any way.
Simply realizing and acknowledging your own failure is a huge step in the right direction. There are many people who find it extremely difficult to humble themselves in this way, especially in a marital situation. At the same time, it is also understandable if you've confessed your faults to your spouse and yet he or she is still having a hard time forgiving you.
True Forgiveness Takes Time
In the first place, recognize that forgiveness is a process. It ebbs and flows; it starts, stops, and starts again; it gets better and gets worse. No matter what the issue that caused the hurt, forgiveness can be more than just a one-shot decision. Understand that forgiving you may take time, and that if your mate occasionally seems to wrestle with or dwell on what you did, that doesn't necessarily amount to a refusal to forgive. Sights, sounds, and memories can trigger an episode of struggle. If you're impatient or inconsiderate, it will only cause more hurt.
Demonstrate your trustworthiness and show that you understand the seriousness of what you've done. Let your spouse see that you have to live with the consequences every day. Assure them regularly that you've learned a great deal about how deeply your actions have affected the marriage. Show how you're taking steps to prevent the mistake from occurring again.
Maybe your spouse is still in the anger stage and wants you to experience some of the hurt that they have felt. You must be patient during this stage of the process, whether your mate is right or wrong. If you're humble about it, he or she may eventually begin to wonder, Why can't I forgive? What payoff am I getting out of withholding forgiveness? Questions like these often lead to healing, but it takes time.
Also, help your spouse understand that you don't expect them not to remember what happened. That's impossible. Explain that you simply look forward to the day when he or she will no longer be so deeply affected by your actions, and to the opportunity of proving your commitment to make your marriage healthy again. Be as understanding as possible. Impatience will only underline the suspicion that you don't care about your partner's struggles.
Do a Self-Check
Throughout this process, make a special effort to be honest with yourself. It's easy to blame your spouse for failing to forgive when you're confident that your heart is genuinely remorseful. But there's a need here for constant self-examination. Keep checking your own attitude and actions. Ask questions like, What exactly caused the hurt in the first place? What behaviors or attitudes do I hold on to that cause more hurt? How do I plan to make the necessary changes?
To forgive is much easier to say than to do, but a marriage in which the couple is willing to extend forgiveness to each other will undoubtedly grow stronger through the years.
Used with permission from Focus on the Family Singapore. For more information on family life resources and workshops, visit www.family.org.sg.
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