Alan admitted to his wife he was wrong. He took steps to make it right as much as was possible. He sincerely asked for her forgiveness. He even gave her a pass to be angry and withdrawn for a considerable period of time, figuring that he deserved it.
But when four months turned into six, and then nine…it became clear that forgiveness and restoration were no closer at hand than they had been on day one. Alan was emotionally exhausted, and his remorse was giving way to frustration.
Whether it’s a stereotype or truth, women are known for remembering everything and quoting often to our husbands from the figurative “Book of Blame.” And while many times our anger or sadness is justified, holding onto it forever isn’t. Even when the mistakes our spouses make are significant, forgiveness is essential if our marriages are to survive. Learn more about How to Forgive Your Husband When It’s Hard, and free your family from the burden of perpetual conflict.
Even when the mistakes our spouses make are significant, forgiveness is essential if our marriages are to survive.
1. Remember that you will need forgiveness one day too.
When one spouse stumbles in a major way, you may feel like there’s nothing you could ever do that would be as bad. None of us is perfect, and you have no idea what challenges and temptations await you in the future. One day the tables may be turned, and it could be you who needs understanding and restoration. Give your spouse the same amount of grace that you would want extended to you if you’d made a mistake for which you were truly remorseful.
2. Acknowledge that forgiveness is a decision—not a feeling.
If you’re waiting for all of the hurt of the wrong to complete dissolve before you pronounce your spouse “forgiven” and try to move forward, you may be waiting a long, long time. You can forgive your spouse while your heart and mind are still sorting out what to do with the anger and resentment that may be lingering. Often making the decision to forgive is the very thing needed to spur you on toward letting go of the negative feelings.
3. Do the hard work of forgiving.
It may seem unfair that you, the one who has been wronged, should have to do anything to repair the relationship. You didn’t tear it up, right? But only you can unpack and discard the feelings and emotional garbage that the incident brought into your life. If that means talking to a counselor or pastor, and spending more time praying and meditating in order to find peace, it’s an investment worth making. And only you can make it.
4. Be objective enough to learn something from what happened.
Nothing happens in a vacuum. In other words, everything has some contributing factors or circumstances that started the dominos tumbling. Rather than putting all of your focus and energy on your spouse’s mistake, look around and ask what might have opened the door for it. Sometimes in doing this, we learn that we, too, played a part in the poor choices of those we love. By acknowledging any ways in which you may have contributed to the problem, you’re not excusing your husband’s mistake, but you are owning your part of it, and that is a step in the right direction.
5. Remember that even the remorseful have a breaking point.
Is harboring your anger and your right to have the “upper hand” in your relationship important enough to you to lose the relationship over? Because your unforgiving spirit may turn out to be the thing that sinks the ship of your marriage. We understand that forgiveness is a process, and healing from major hurts does take time and work on both parts. But at some point, the game changes. Your spouse is no longer the one in the wrong for what he did; you are in the wrong for your refusal to forgive.
Let’s Talk: Have you ever found it difficult to forgive your husband? How did you get past it?
Dana Hall McCain writes about marriage, parenting, faith and wellness. She is a mom of two, and has been married to a wonderful guy for over 18 years.