Marriage is a wonderful God-ordained institution that is filled with situations that require forgiveness. If a person has trouble with forgiving, they will most likely have a difficult time in marriage. From forgetting special occasions to messing up airplane reservations, all the way to checking out of difficult conversations, to badgering, to flirting with a member of the opposite sex or having an affair, being married presents more opportunities to practice and perfect forgiveness than most any other type of relationship. In a healthy marriage partners eventually learn to deal with issues early on and, if possible, to deal with them quickly. “Forgiveness is at the very heart of the gospel. Colossians 3:13 states, ‘Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.’”
What is Forgiveness in Marriage?
Forgiveness in Marriage is telling your spouse that they don’t have to pay you back. In Matthew 18:21-35, Jesus told a story about a servant who owed his king money. He didn’t have it and pleaded for mercy. Verse 27 says, “Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.” Then the servant went to someone who owed him money. That man also said he didn’t have it, but he had him thrown in prison. The king heard of it and called the first servant in and threw him in prison until he could pay. Jesus finished by saying, “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” Forgiveness is a big deal with God. Many marriages and relationships are grinding like gears without oil. Every time they are together they clash. Somebody needs to forgive and let go.
Forgiveness in Marriage – Handling Conflict
When we forgive someone, we make a way forward in the relationship. Let’s look at the concept of conflict and forgiveness in marriage. Conflict comes from 2 Latin words. The first is “con” and means “together with.” The second is “fligere” which means “to strike.” Put them together and you have the term “conflict” – “To strike together with.” Conflict exists when you try to make 2 things occupy the same space at the same time. Same for conflict in marriage In physics, it’s called the “Pauli exclusion principle.” It applies to all areas of life. Imagine that a couple each have a car but they only have a 1-car garage, 2 people trying to do the same job, 2 people trying to lead at the same time, or a person with a spouse and a second love interest on the side. It doesn’t work. It’s as simple as that. Sometimes it happens unintentionally. However, pride can cause 1 or both to resist stepping aside. That takes maturity and a willingness to forgive.
“Understand Your Conflict Management Style”
If you want to move beyond the gridlock and head-butting that sometimes shows up in marriage, you need to understand your conflict management style.
- The Avoider – Sticks head in the sand
- The Accommodator – Constantly runs interference (codependent)
- The Competitor – Has to win at all costs, Either win or lose
- The Compromiser – Everybody gives up something, no one is really happy
- The Collaborator – Work together, and help get each other what they want in the deal
Forgiveness in Marriage – Making Lists
Managing anything these days requires making lists. The same is true for forgiveness in marriage. This exercise might take some time but it’s time well-spent. Sit down together as a couple and make a master list of everything you can think of that has to be done: groceries, schedules, sports practices, church activities, paying bills, planning vacations, etc. Next, nobody is good at everything. Let your guard down and ask who is the big-picture person and who is the detail person? There are no gender-specific tasks in a marriage. Whether it’s making the bed, buying the groceries, or cleaning the car, both of you use it. Make your lists as even as possible. Pick the same day and a time to sit down every week and figure out what that means for that week. If you want to succeed in your marriage, you have to be intentional.
Praying together looks a little different for each couple. Maybe you pray quietly in your bed at night but your spouse walks around the house and prays aloud. Figure it out. Make prayer lists for your spouse. Ask him/her “What do you need this week?” “What’s your number 1 challenge and how can I help? From there, you will be able to serve each other and experience forgiveness in marriage. But please, whatever you do, be quick to forgive. It makes all the difference in the world. I hope you have enjoyed The 7 Steps To A Healthy Marriage.