I am often astonished at the level of detail of my wife’s memory. She can recall the colors, sounds, and words of events that occurred decades ago. There are many things that I can recall with the same level of detail, but compared to my wife I have no memory at all. There have been, over the years of our marriage, many events worth remembering. There are some we would just as soon forget.
Rehearsing Past Wrongs Turns Your Home Into One of Silence
As a newlywed couple, neither of us understood the power and necessity of grace and forgiveness. Neither did we understand the power that harboring hurts and unforgiveness possessed to tear down a relationship. The fruit of our selfish nature was pretty evident in the early years of our marriage. Not only did we remember, with vivid detail, every hurt or transgression we committed against each other, we were quick to use the memory to gain the upper hand in an argument.
As a result, our home became one of silence. No one desired to say the wrong thing, afraid that it may trigger a trip down “memory lane.” When we harbor bitterness towards our spouse and are unwilling to forgive, we undermine our own marriage. The only things that grow in the dark are mushrooms, mold, and other fungi. We often fail to see the damage we are causing to our spouse, and the long-term health of our marriage, when we use our own hurt as justification to harbor ill-will.
“The only things that grow in the dark are mushrooms, mold, and other fungi.”
Forgiveness Is For Your Benefit Too
Talking to the Ephesians, Paul told them to, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32) Believe it or not, forgiveness is as much for your benefit as it is for the person you are forgiving. Harboring dark feelings of hurt, desiring to get back at others, or see them “get what they’ve got coming” is a tough way to live. It short-circuits our joy and separates us from the life we were redeemed by Christ to live.
Not only that, but as married disciples of Jesus Christ we are obligated to live according the example set for us by Jesus. In Matthew’s gospel Jesus tells us, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,…” (Matthew 6:14) There is a contrasting verse that follows immediately, and says, “…but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:15)
“We often fail to see the damage we are causing to our spouse…when we use our own hurt as justification to harbor ill-will.”
A Marriage Without Forgiveness Is A Marriage Without Joy
So when I fail to forgive not only do I circumvent my own happiness, and undermine the joy I’m designed to have in marriage, but I also deny God’s forgiveness in my own life! You can understand why people who fail to forgive, married or not, are some of the least joyous people that you will ever meet. The good thing is that God has another way for us. He makes it possible for us to not only receive His grace and forgiveness, but to extend grace and forgiveness to others as well. I will talk about what grace and forgiveness looks like in the next posts.
Do you have a problem forgiving your spouse? Do you find it difficult to get over what has happened? As always, I’d love to hear your story and connect in the comments below. If you’re enjoying this series, consider hitting one of the share buttons to let others know. This post is part of a series on the things I’ve learned in twenty-five years of marriage.
- Part 1 – Introduction
- Part 2 – Selfishness Has No Place in Marriage
- Part 3 – It All Begins with Commitment
- Part 4 – You’ve Got to Talk A Lot, About Everything
- Part 5 – The Difference Between Just Hearing and Really Listening
- Part 6 – Say What You Mean
- Part 7 – Real Love Never Ends
- Part 8 – Learn How to Fight to Win