I think one of the hardest things in marriage is learning to forgive each other.
The thing about forgiveness is many people think that forgiving is saying that the wrong done to us is now OK. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Forgiving your spouse (or anyone else) is simply saying, “I refuse to let the wrong done to me control my life”.
I often tell people that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person gets sick. Harboring unforgiveness in our heart will lead to mental and emotional pain.
Medical experts also agree unforgiveness leads to physical pain. Dr. Karen Swartz from John Hopkins Hospital says, “There is an enormous physical burden to being hurt and disappointed”.
Unforgiveness leaves us angry and bitter. Research has proven depression, heart disease, anxiety and stress can also be caused by refusing to forgive. We have enough things going on in our life that we cannot control. We don’t need something that we can control causing us health and emotional problems.
We do have the power to forgive our spouse or anyone who has wronged us. It is a choice we have to make. Even when we don’t want to, we need to say out loud, “I choose to forgive (insert name) for (insert offense).
This will no longer have free reign in my marriage and my life.” Every time you begin to think about the offense after this, say out loud, “I specifically remember forgiving (insert name) for that”.
Refrain from bringing the offense back up. I’m not suggesting you will forget the incident, but I am suggesting you no longer entertain it. It’s often helpful to write a letter to your spouse or telling them face to face you have forgiven them.
Even knowing the harm it does to us, I realize some of us will still not want to forgive. Ten years ago, this was me. I knew I needed to forgive a family member for something they had done, but honestly I had carried the pain for so long it had become a part of my identity.
It was only after I decided their sin was no longer going to rule my life that I finally got to a place where I was willing to think about forgiveness. I still didn’t want to forgive, but I knew in order to get to the next season of my life, unforgiveness had to go.
I begin speaking out loud, “I don’t want to forgive but Lord, give me a heart that wants to forgive.” I said this every day for three weeks. One morning I woke up and I realized the anger and bitterness toward that person was gone!
While it can be a process, your life and your marriage will reap the benefits as you forgive. There are also times the person needing forgiveness is yourself. Extend this grace to yourself.
The greatest gift you can give someone who has hurt you is the gift of forgiveness. While not easy, it has the power to restore what has been broken whether that’s your heart, your marriage, or both. I believe in you. From this point forward, choose to walk in forgiveness.
Kindra Warner is a marriage group facilitator at Grace Christian Center in Killeen and a Herald correspondent.