The moment you do or say something that hurts your marriage partner, you stand at a fork in the road. Whether you are aware of it or not, at that very moment you can choose to go in one of two directions. You may be standing at that junction right now. Perhaps a thoughtless word or deed in the last few hours or minutes has directed a barrier of distance in your relationship. It may not be a “big deal”; you wonder if your husband or wife even noticed it. But you know what happened. How will you respond to it? Which direction will you choose?
Forks in the Road
One choice is to go on with life as usual, as if nothing happened. You can pretend that everything is fine between you, even though you know it’s not fine. You can be your cheery, communicative self, expecting the incident to blow over. But these kinds of things, even the smallest of them, never really blow over. They tend to simmer below the surface and erupt at the most inconvenient times. So you can do nothing if you want to, but we don’t recommend it.
Your other choice, the second fork in the road, is to set to work to resolve the conflict as soon as possible. It means taking the initiative to set things straight, to clear the air, and to restore the relationship. It requires courage to restore and rebuild a relationship – regardless of which side of the fence you’re on. It also takes time, patience, trust, and maybe even some tears. But the benefits of a restored relationship far outweigh the effort involved.
Closing the Loop
We call this second step “closing the loop” on relational offenses. Your hurtful words or actions open the loop by introducing pain. It is important to close that loop as soon as possible to deal with the pain and return the relationship to harmony. Closing the loop is forgiving love in action. It’s the biblical pathway to confronting offenses, resolving conflicts, and healing hearts. This is God’s way to restoring mutual acceptance and intimacy in the wake of misunderstanding and pain. Closing the loop through forgiving love is a vital component in divorce-proofing your marriage.
The most important step in taking the path of forgiveness is heart preparation. Your heart must be right, or your efforts at closing the loop will be shallow and ineffective. King David was a man after God’s own heart because he consistently – though not perfectly – invited God to work in his heart. Notice how much David talked to God about the condition of his heart:
“I will thank you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done.” (Psalm 9:1)