Because I write marriage books, including Honey, I Don't Have a Headache Tonight, I get asked a lot of questions. Here was one I answered online recently:
There have been things that have happened in the marriage that have caused me to
not trust my husband. He has apologized and admitted he was wrong but i
cant let go and forgive. I want to. And I know that once i can
release this anger and fully forgive we can be happy. How do i do this?
Do you ever feel that way? In marriage we have a lot to forgive on a daily basis. Yesterday I cut my finger quite badly. I paged Keith, who was on his way home, and he said he'd look at it (he's a doctor). But when he got home he checked on our sump pump connection at the side of the house before coming indoors to check on me! I was livid.
I did need stitches, and I am in pain. But the hard part was letting him off the hook for that. It's such a little thing, but still.
But what if it's bigger? What if it's an affair, or gambling, or pornography? Then how do you forgive?
Here's what I told this woman:
First, you have to be sure in your mind that the offense is truly in the past. For instance, if he had an affair, are you sure that this is not going on now? Has he demonstrated that he is committed to not doing it again? If not, then this is the issue that needs to be dealt with first if his infraction was something that could damage the marriage (like affairs, pornography use, or other addictions).
If, however, he has shown that he is sorry and has tried to show you that he won't do it again, the ball is now in your court. So let me say a few things about forgiveness.
First, remember that no matter what he did in the past, he can't make up for it now. There is no way for him to erase what happened. If you continue to hold it against him, it is like you are asking him to make up for it. You're asking for the impossible. At some point you have to realize that what is past is past, and you can't change
it. You can't ask him to change it. It just is.
Second , if you keep your anger towards him, you end up punishing both of you. It is impossible to function as a unit and to have an intimate relationship if you are harbouring resentment for him.
So what do you want from your marriage? Do you want someone you can love and cherish who cherishes you back? Do you long to feel loved and unconditionally accepted? Then you need to work on achieving that in your marriage, and that means letting this go. You will never get what you want and yearn for if you stay angry.
Of course, it may not be fair that you forgive. Forgiveness never is fair. That's not the point. It is not that forgiveness is fair; it is that it is freeing. It frees both of you. He
doesn't have to make up for the past, and you don't have to stay angry. You can both concentrate on the here and now and learn to love one another again.
Finally, if you're finding it hard to forgive, remember that someone has already paid the price. I don't know if your religious or not, but I believe that God already paid the price for all the rotten stuff that people do when Jesus died on the cross. If he's already paid for it, then someone has been punished. It wasn't your husband, but someone has paid. So your husband doesn't have to. He also paid for all the stuff you've done. He did it so that you could have a relationship with God without being hindered by all the sin and ugly stuff in our lives.
So if you ask God to help you understand how He has forgiven you, maybe you will also be able to extend that forgiveness to your husband.
What would you have said? And don't forget, tomorrow's Wifey Wednesday! I'll be doing a post especially for marriage.
Labels: forgiveness, loving, marriage