Best to Forgive in Marriage


Forgiveness comes in all shapes and sizes. There are some things in marriage that are easy to forgive. Your spouse forgets to pick up an item on their way home from work, and now you have to go out to the grocery store and get it yourself. While the inconvenience it’s caused you is irritating, the real disturbance is that you think your spouse doesn’t care about you. In reality, the offense was likely caused by a simple distraction.

Maybe there was something you asked your partner to do a few weeks ago and they promised they would do it, but it’s still not done. Maybe you should have agreed on a date when it would be completed to avoid that frustration. But, again, at the core of your annoyance is that you think your spouse just didn’t care enough about your feelings to finish, which is probably not true. Those kinds of assumptions only amplify the situation.

These are still fairly minor things to forgive. It’s easy for us to understand how people get distracted or how they avoid performing a task they loathe, but as the size of these offenses grows, you soon realize that forgiveness can be difficult. One of the reasons it becomes problematic is because sometimes when we forgive, we feel like we’re letting our spouse walk away free and clear from a situation that’s caused us pain. We start to wonder if they’ve spent enough time hurting and if they should really be allowed this absolution. We begin to measure the hurt we’ve experienced against what they have felt throughout the ordeal. Is it equal? Should it be? It’s a natural response, but it’s not the best way to view forgiveness.

We need to see forgiveness from a different perspective because if we don’t learn to forgive, our marriages will suffer. Forgiveness isn’t about whether we have both felt certain emotions equally or if we’re letting someone get away with an act that caused us great harm. It’s much more about trying to heal a situation that will not heal without forgiveness. Perhaps today you and your spouse are dealing with something that has caused tremendous pain and it’s left you both paralyzed and unable to make the next move. The truth is that one of you might need to initiate forgiveness, but both of you need to activate forgiveness.

That activation may start with the words “I’m sorry” or with one spouse reaching out to hug the other spouse and allowing words to follow. In most situations, an apology is needed by both spouses. That’s because one spouse actually did something that needs forgiveness, and the other spouse might have responded by holding a grudge, which also isn’t right.

Most marriages that ultimately heal, do so because of forgiveness. It’s the right medicine to reconcile any situation where spouses have experienced hurt in one form or another. When your partner offends you and you try to come back together without forgiving, the offense will likely resurface and come between you again. Forgiveness is the only way to bury it and move on.

I challenge you to think about what this might look like for you in your marriage today. If there is an area, whether the shape is large or small, that you need to forgive, consider taking action and activating forgiveness so that your marriage can grow.