In 2015, two days after the horrific church shooting in Charleston, SC, family members were face-to-face with the man who had killed their loved ones. Their response was nothing short of beautiful and full of grace. The world was shocked when they all offered him forgiveness. As one family member said later, “Hate destroys those who harbor it. I refuse to let it destroy me.”
Forgiveness not only heals our hearts; it heals relationships. Often, we think of forgiveness as something we need for big things–but it’s those little things that can lead to resentfulness and bitterness, especially toward our husbands. Forgiveness in marriage is necessary to have a healthy relationship. So when your husband forgets to do something you asked him to, or when he says something in a tone you don’t like, deal with it right then. Tell him how you feel, and then make up your mind to wipe that slate clean and forgive him. If you need help getting started, here are the 5 steps to forgiveness in marriage.
1. Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling.
We may not feel like forgiving. We may want to harbor the anger and hurt and make him pay for what he has done. But, once you decide you want to grant forgiveness, you can begin to work through those feelings.
2. Share your hurt.
After your husband has apologized and asked for forgiveness, you need to talk about the matter before you move on. It might be uncomfortable, but you need to share how you feel. Don’t point a finger; just share how you feel so he’ll understand the depth of your hurt. Make sure you feel heard before you move on.
3. Plan for change.
The goal here is not to punish with requirements, but to set up guidelines that you both agree to. That way, there will be fewer gray areas that can lead to disappointment.
4. Stop the video.
Do not replay your husband’s infraction over and over again in your mind. When your mind starts to wander and you begin to dwell on the incident and the hurt it caused you, tell yourself to stop. It’s one thing to need to talk to someone like a pastor or a counselor about your pain so you can move past it, but it’s another when you keep inflicting the pain on yourself by dwelling on the hurt. Deciding to truly forgive your husband is re-committing to your relationship. Don’t sabotage that re-commitment by focusing on the negative.
5. Give yourself time.
Just deciding to forgive will not strip away all of the pain. It’s natural to feel raw and disappointed. Go back to step 4 when you need to, and keep choosing to forgive.
Tell us! What is the hardest thing about forgiving someone?