My wife and I went on a much-needed date night last night and – after 15 minutes of looking at each other and wondering “…. what do we talk about?” – proceeded to have some really great conversations. One of them was about forgiveness, and how it’s less a feeling and more a letting go. Let me explain.
Forgiveness is recognizing you legitimately have been wronged, that you are “owed” something. As Christians though we are free to give these debts we’re owed to God and saying “I give this to you. Would you give me what I need. I’m not going to demand it from this person anymore.” Forgiveness isn’t a denial of experiencing a loss, it’s a redirection of who we want to make it right.
It’s easy for relational “debts” to stack up in our marriages – to feel as though we are owed something by our spouse and become increasingly resentful of them not giving it to us. Sometimes what we feel we’re owed is legitimate, sometimes it’s not, but in every instance harboring resentment is an intimacy-killer. So what does forgiveness in a marriage look like?
1. Analyze the “debt”?
Honestly think of what you feel your spouse owes you. Be honest in your assessment and consider how reasonable what you’re wanting is.
2. Give the debt to God
Rather than demanding what you want from your spouse, bring it to God. Whenever you find yourself angry or resentful imagine yourself letting go of the debt you feel your owed and asking God to pay it for you instead.
3. Have an honest conversation
No one wins if there’s a continual need you have/feel that’s not being met. Your spouse may agree, or they may feel what you’re asking for isn’t reasonable. Either way if both of you are releasing your right to be right to God, the conversation will move your marriage forward.
This process never stops. We will always stack up grievances both big and small in our marriages. Keep evaluating when and where those come up and go through these steps.