How Do I Forgive My Spouse?
Marriage teaches you how to forgive sinners—especially your spouse. A perfect marriage doesn’t exists—all marriages will have to deal with sin, struggles, anger, resentment, bitterness, disagreements, arguments, hard times, etc. But as endeavor to obey the Bible and live life together with your spouse, you will learn how to instantly and continually forgive your spouse when he/she wrongs you in the same way that you have experienced forgiveness by God through Jesus.
The Spouse Forgiven By Jesus, Learns To Forgive His/Her Spouse
- Jesus is the standard to measure our forgiveness—meaning that we are to forgive in the same way and to the same extent that Jesus forgave us. As believers, Jesus has completely forgave all of our sins: past, present and future. Every failure and wrong thing we have done is forgiven. Forgiveness means the offended one chooses to pardon all the consequences of the wrongdoing by the offender—not causing them to pay the full price. Jesus endured hardship while on earth, but also took the initiative to forgive. In the same way, you are to forbear your spouse—meaning that you have to endure the hardships that come with marriage even during the unpleasant and difficult times, but also you are to pardon all the consequences (anger, resentment, bitterness, silence) for the wrongdoing they have done against you. This is a simple principle: “The forgiven forgive”—because Jesus forgave you, you should be willing to forgive others. Ultimately, forgiveness is a command to be obeyed. Therefore, the first step to learning how to forgive your spouse is to first experience true forgiveness for yourself by the Great Forgiver—Jesus.
Colossians 3:13; Ephesians 4:32
- Jesus forgave those He loved when they sinned against Him. He was sent on a mission to save sinners because of God’s love for them. Jesus worked great miracles, taught the truth of God and only showed loved towards mankind. But mankind rejected His love and crucified Him on the cross. As He was hanging on the cross, He said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Jesus was willing to forgive those who rejected and crucified Him. Ultimately, He did nothing but love them and they sinned against Him, but Jesus forgave them—even as He was being offended—He was willing to pay the debt for their offense. Therefore, forgiving your spouse includes being willing to forgive them as you are being offended—knowing Jesus already payed the debt for their sins.
- Jesus forgiveness is always available. As believers, we are to continually confess our sins to God and we know that God, through the blood of Jesus Christ His Son, is faithful and just to forgive our sins. When we first confess our sins and Jesus as Lord, we receive salvation and establish our permanent relationship (nothing can change this), but continual confession is part of our life to maintain healthy fellowship with God. It means that we recognize the sin in our lives, agree with God about it and see it from His perspective. Ultimately, continual confession is a characteristic of a true believer and God is continually cleaning us from all unrighteousness. Therefore, forgiving your spouse includes always making your forgiveness available and approachable.
1 John 1:9; Colossians 2:13; Luke 15:11-32; Luke 17:3-4
Principles From Biblical Forgiveness
- Forgiving your spouse means removing his/her sin from him/her. It means that you choose to no longer see him/her as that person or identify them by their sin (no more name calling). The Bible says that as far as the East is from the West, so far God has removed our “transgressions” from us. The distance between the East and the West can be unending and in the same way God has distanced our sin from us. He doesn’t hold our past sins and failures over our head, but makes them distant from us in such a way they are no longer associated with us. Forgiveness in marriage means no longer associating your spouse’s sin with your spouse.
Psalm 103:12; Micah 7:19
- Forgiving your spouse means forgetting his/her sin. The Bible says that God forgives our iniquity and He will remember our sin no more. God is willing to forget all of our wrongdoings and how we have offended Him. It may be hard for us to forget the sins of our spouse, but this is where the “process of forgiveness” comes into play—meaning each time it comes into your thoughts you choose to not think on it and forgive your spouse once again. Forgiveness in marriage means no longer keeping in mind your spouse’s sin for contemplation or consideration.
- Forgiving your spouse means blotting out his/her sins. The Bible says that not only does God choose to not remember our sins, but that He blots out our transgressions for His own sake. God erases the record of all of our acts that go against Him or His law. There is no list that keeps track of all of our failures or sins. Forgiveness in marriage means no longer keeping a mental or physical record of any of your spouse’s sins.
Practical Wisdom, Good Judgment And Common Sense
- Every marriage goes through struggles and problems, so it isn’t “if” but “when” and how you choose to respond to it is the important part. You need to choose to move towards your spouse when you fall so that things can be resolved, not away from him/her.
- Unforgiveness hurts you and your spouse. It is like a poison you drink expecting to hurt the other person—but since you are united together as one it hurts both sides. Not forgiving each other in marriage can lead to lasting hurt feelings which can lead to apathy, criticism, silence, sexlessness, independence or sudden bursts of anger. No one wins when unforgiveness reigns.
- Anger is often a result of being sinned against. The Bible tells us not to sin in response to this anger but to deal with it daily. The reason is that prolonged anger can lead us to sin. Therefore, we should make it a habit to do all we can to fix the situation right away.
Ephesians 4:26-27; Psalm 4:4; Romans 12:17-21
- If God removes, forgets and blots out our sin, then we can conclude that He isn’t going to mention it again. We should do the same. There is no need to bring up your spouse’s sins again during an argument if you are truly trying to forgive them like Jesus forgave you.
- Whenever there is physical, verbal or sexual abuse; martial unfaithfulness or other destructive behavior that extends beyond normal disagreements or arguments it needs to be reported to the correct authorities and a third party may be needed to help with this confrontation and prevent future abuse.
- Who is the standard to measure our forgiveness? Why?
- What did Jesus do when those He loved sinned against Him?
- When is Jesus forgiveness available?
- What are three principles from biblical forgiveness?
- Is there unforgiveness in your marriage or life that needs dealt with?