Embracing Forgiveness in Your Marriage

Discovering the Power to Heal, Grow, and Embrace a Brighter Future Together

It is normal to feel angry when you’ve been hurt or betrayed. Sometimes, the anger you feel may transcend into rage, sadness and then feeling distraught. It is quite difficult to describe exactly how it feels. When you fail to work on those negative emotions properly, the outcome will leave you feeling bitter and resentful. Eventually, you will unconsciously start to shut your feelings emotionally and sexually.

Moving past conflict towards unity and growth in marriageYou may start giving your partner the silent treatment and question your importance in their life. The disadvantage of bottling up your pain is that it leads to withdrawal, you become cold and you start to build up walls which are disastrous in any relationship.

The benefits of forgiveness are numerous. It will improve your mental health. It will help you to build a healthier relationship with your spouse. Practicing forgiveness will help reduce anxiety, stress and hostility.  It will reduce the symptoms of depression and give one inner peace. It strengthens the immune system and lowers blood pressure. It improves heart health and boosts self esteem. Your overall health takes a hit when you hold on to bitterness and resentment. It spills over to negatively affect all areas of your life. It also affects the way you view other relationships. Either way, you need to follow the process that is essential to actually forgive your spouse with your whole heart.

Also Read: Why should I forgive?

American Christian author, Ruth Bell Graham famously said, “A happy marriage is the union of two happy forgivers.” This is very true because as psychologists say, forgiveness is a deliberate effort to release any feelings of vengeance or bitterness toward a person or group of people who have caused you pain whether they deserve your forgiveness or not.

45 years old Maggie was married to a serial cheat. She had been married to her husband James for sixteen years. She worked at top management level in a multinational organization. Amy was a 25-year-old intern whom Maggie took a particular liking to because she had promising potentials. She soon took the young lady under her wings as her professional mentor. As their professional relationship grew into friendship, Amy was soon invited to Maggie’s home on some weekends. James and Amy started an affair one weekend that Maggie was out of town on a company retreat. She was not aware of this illicit affair until toward the end of the year at their company’s Christmas party. Maggie and James were driving over to the party when and James told Maggie that they had to stop over at Amy’s to pick her up for the party. Maggie asked how he knew that Amy needed a lift to the party. James said that Amy had texted him. When Maggie asked why Amy had not texted her instead, James mumbled something about her number not being reachable. This drew suspicion. Maggie told her husband that Amy can find her way to the party and if she couldn’t it wasn’t their responsibility to pick her up. James insisted on picking Amy up and it resulted to a fight. He hit his wife and left red bruises on her shoulder which was exposed for anybody to easily see as she was wearing a halter-neck dress. James pulled up at Amy’s house anyway and picked her up. The young intern met her battered boss weeping silently inside the car. Her hair looked disheveled and the bruise on her shoulder looked raw.

Maggie looked up at Amy. “Is this how you pay me back, by having an affair with my husband?”

Amy couldn’t look Maggie in the eye. She felt so terrible about what she had done to her friend. Maggie had an important presentation at the event. The Christmas party also doubled as a long service and meritorious award event to deserving staff. Maggie was billed to read out a few citations about the honorees, after which she would present them with their award. It was too late for her to call in sick or make up an excuse not to attend. It would make her look bad. Amy suggested she covered her shoulders with a shawl. She went back inside and got her boss a silk shawl which matched the color of her dress. The drive to the party was silent. Nobody spoke. James obviously looked remorseful but was so embarrassed about the way he handled the whole affair that he didn’t know what next to do. Amy had made up her mind to put an end to the affair. She didn’t know what she was thinking stabbing Maggie in the back like that. Besides, she could never be with a woman beater. Maggie on the other hand was dazed. She was still trying to process this painful discovery and what her final reaction would be to it. Her focus was on her presentation. She didn’t want to give away anything and risk being the topic for office gossip in the New Year.

The next months were very difficult for Maggie. The pain of betrayal felt raw like it happened five minutes ago. It made her restless and she couldn’t sleep. She wanted to end her marriage but she was wary of a custody battle and all of the other inconveniences that came with divorce proceedings. James told her he still loved her and was more than willing to fix things. He only asked for her forgiveness so they could put the past behind them. When you find yourself in a similar situation they are certain steps you must take as forgiveness is more beneficial to the victim than it may be to the defaulter.

So here are deliberate steps to take to ensure that letting go of the past is easy for you.

The first step is to choose to forgive even if your heart is not yet ready to. Be intentional about releasing the hurt. It will definitely not happen overnight, but make a conscious effort not to build any walls anytime you are triggered. It takes work; you will have to keep at it. The offending party also has a lot of work to do. They will have to make a conscious effort to build back every single day, the trust that they destroyed. Take small steps, go slow if the pain is still raw but be consistent with your healing process.

Next, is to open up to your spouse about the pain you are experiencing from their actions. Do not bottle up your hurt. It will only eat you up and put you in a bad place. Release your pain and create a plan on how to put the past behind you. Learn to always pray together. Prayer works in ways you can never imagine.

Forgiveness is usually the ultimate act of maturity, especially when someone has wronged you so terribly that it seems almost impossible to let go. The truth is, nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes from time to time. That’s because we are human and not perfect. You cannot be married to your spouse without them offending you now and then. Likewise you; it might be you messing up sometimes more than your spouse. Therefore, forgiveness is a crucial aspect to a healthy and thriving marriage.

Discuss with your spouse about what you need to kick start your healing process and rebuild trust for them again. Find out from them what plans they have in mind to ensure that you both do not find yourselves in such a heartbreaking situation again.

Pray together every day. Pray for each other and say it out loud so that your partner can affirm your words with you. It will prevent your hearts from further becoming hardened as it also opens a channel for God’s love to flow through and heal you both. Prayers will take you both back to the love that made you both decide to be together. Commit whatever hurt you are struggling with that is preventing you from completely letting go. Also ask your spouse what issues they are struggling with. It will help them know that they are not in this alone and can rely on you because you’ve got their back despite your differences.

Go through a daily dialogue session where you both sit down, hold hands and talk. It helps to get the burden off your chest. It will also help you both to move on.

Pay compliments to each other. Focus on telling each other positive things that lift the spirit. Never fail to remind them of what it is that you love about them.

The most important and final step is to learn to confide in each other. This is a powerful weapon for fighting anything that could lead to distrust, betrayal or a breakdown in the marriage. It will also help to strengthen your bond and maintain a healthy relationship; most especially your intimacy.

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