Ruth Bell Graham once said, “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” These words of wisdom are rooted in an understanding of God’s forgiveness of us and how we as Christians are to forgive others. But what does forgiveness really mean? And what does it look like? Continue to read as I share with you 4 practical tips for forgiving your spouse.
We know that saying, “I forgive you” doesn’t really mean much if I bring up past arguments again and again.
So how can we show our spouses love and compassion like God has called us to do?
God in His grace has given us His precious word with illustrations and commands on how to do this practically.
This post was written by Shana Burchard, you can find her online on her blog here, and learn more about her by reading her bio at the end of this post.
4 Practical Tips for Forgiving Your Spouse
1. Choose not to remember
I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sinsIsaiah 43:25, ESV
Israel in the Old Testament time and again did not honor God. They sinned against Him and deserved His wrath and punishment.
But God extended His grace. He reminded them of His character and who He is. He reminded them of His forgiving heart, the same heart that forgives us and reconciles us to Him through the death of Jesus Christ.
Choose to cover past hurts with your spouse and move on with grace. Try extending grace to your spouse by not bringing up past inconveniences or words that were said.
Try living in grace and watch how bitterness disappears.
They say that time has a way of healing wounds, but watch as God works on your own heart as you extend grace to your spouse.
2. Cast the sin away
Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.Micah 7:18-19 (ESV)
I love this beautiful illustration of casting our sins into the sea.
My sin is put far away from me and casts into the depths of the ocean. I no longer feel the weight of it pulling me down.
It is freeing to be forgiven. We should not be drowning in anger toward our spouse, but living in grace and letting our frustrations go. If you are struggling to let go of hurts and heartaches, pray through the pain.
Pray for healing and restoration in your marriage as you begin to let go of the hurt weighing you down.
3. Treat them like God has treated you
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”Ephesians 4:32 (ESV)
John MacArthur said in his sermon (Reasons To Forgive), “You’re never more like God than when you forgive.”
We as Christians are supposed to be the salt and light of the earth. What is setting us apart from the world if we give in to temptations of anger, grudges, and harsh words?
We are called to be “imitators of God, as beloved children” (Ephesians 5:1, ESV).
Our affection toward pride leads us down the path of sin as we respond ungraciously to our spouse in moments of conflict or frustration.
Instead, treat your spouse as you would a beloved child of God. Are you seeing your spouse as an immortal soul that God dearly loves? C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory, 1949) writes:
“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.
This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”
If we follow C.S. Lewis’ advice and take the path of “no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption,” then we are walking in the path of humbleness.
Show your spouse a humble attitude and let us not forget that our spouse is made in the image of God. I am so thankful that God treats me with respect, faithfulness, kindness, and unending grace. I know that I need to work on these attributes so I can extend them to my spouse.
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4. Remember God’s goodness
Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!Psalm 25:7 (ESV)
I love it when I attend weddings and they have the dance where all the married couples are called out onto the dance floor. The DJ will start calling out years and if the couple has been married that long, they stay on the dance floor. After a while, a couple with an old, long-lasting love remains.
They have been married for years and years. What a beautiful picture it is to see two lovers growing old together and celebrating the beautiful life they have created!
As they sway in each other’s arms, only they know all the struggles and hurts God has helped them to overcome.
One way in which we can overcome when the enemy attacks our marriage is to thank God for the specific qualities of our spouse.
Remember the joy they have brought you, how they have helped you over time, and the sweet memories you have created. In hard times, it is easy to become withdrawn and focus only of the negative. Instead,
Aet your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth”Colossians 3:2, ESV
Focus on God’s goodness and “let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with malice” (Ephesians 4:31, ESV).
In life, we know that “for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, ESV).
The enemy would love to break apart the union you have with your spouse and leave you empty and broken hearted.
If you have never had an argument, misunderstanding, or frustration with your spouse, your day will come. Remember that “God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life” (Psalm 54:4, ESV). Show your spouse grace and forgive as He has forgiven us.
In the comments below, share some tips that help you when forgiving your spouse.