Marriage is the university of all offence, do not marry if you cannot forgive. Lifeworks on principles and you cannot be breaking principles and claiming blessings. Many marriages are in trouble because of a lack of application of principles. If you are going into marriage, be ready to forgive and accept forgiveness. A good marriage is made up of two good forgivers.
I have been hurt many times within and outside my marriage. No one has not been hurt by the actions and words of other people. Those we love dearly will hurt us. Even as a new-born child we were hurt by the slap on our bottom to make us cry and take our first breath. Sometimes the actions we find hurtful are meant to help us especially, by those who are close to us and love us. In a marriage, husband and wife will hurt each other, it how we process that hurt that makes the difference. Offences will come but do you forgive easily? Do you overlook an offence, or do you take offences personally and store them up? When we refuse to let go of offences, we store them up and they become toxic to us.
I heard of a story of a father who wanted to teach his son a lesson on unforgiveness. He gave his son permission to pick a tomato and put it in a bag each time he was offended and could not let go of that offence. He was to carry that bag around with him as that is how we carry the offence with us if we do not let it go. After a few weeks, he should come back with the bag of tomatoes and share his experience. This boy kept filling his bag with tomatoes each time he got offended. As you and I can imagine, after some time, the bag became heavy to carry around, not only was it heavy to carry around, it started to smell and maggots started coming out of the rotten tomatoes. This young boy realised that he cannot carry this smelly and putrid bag around anymore because he was smelly and disgusting and no one wants to be around him. This is the picture I want you to have in your mind if you are struggling with unforgiveness in your heart and your marriage.
Who hasn’t been hurt by the actions or words of another? Perhaps a parent constantly criticized you growing up, a co-worker sabotaged your work? or your partner committed an unpardonable offence? You may have had a painful experience, such as being physically or emotionally abused by someone close to you, when you were young. These wounds can leave you with long-lasting feelings of anger and bitterness and a desire for vengeance.
But if you don’t practice forgiveness, you might be the one who pays most dearly. By embracing forgiveness, you can also embrace peace, hope, gratitude, and joy. Consider how forgiveness can lead you down the path of physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
Many people have misconceptions about what forgiveness really means and they may avoid it. Others may want to forgive but wonder whether they truly can. Forgiveness does not necessarily come easily, but many of us can achieve it if we have the right teaching and are willing to put in the effort.
“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Forgiveness is defined as a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge.
It means to release, grant freedom, liberate, discharge, give amnesty, grant mercy, pardon, indulgence, exemption, acquit and setting free those who offend and hurt us.
Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for improved health and peace of mind, which makes a marriage to thrive.
Ephesians 4:31-32 says “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” It is an action you and I must take; it is not passive but active stance to do away with any unforgiveness.
If you are single, practice forgiving people now, if you cannot forgive yourself and others you are very likely not going to forgive your spouse. Love will not remain in face of unforgiveness. If you are already married, you must learn to forgive, you cannot continue to carry toxic waste around. It is like drinking poison and waiting for someone else to die.
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Forgiveness leads to:
- Healthier relationships improved mental health, Less anxiety, stress and hostility and lower blood pressure.
- When you forgive you relieve yourself of unnecessary load and rid your body of the stress that leads to illnesses and diseases.
- You are obeying God and will be in right standing with God.
Unforgiveness leads to:
- anger and bitterness which kills love in a marriage, it pulls wool over your eyes and you will not be rational in the way you think.
- You cannot enjoy the present; you are tied to the past and unable to move forward.
- You lose valuable and enriching connectedness with your spouse; intimacy cannot survive when you harbour unforgiveness.
- Living in disobedience to Gods command thereby exposed to the attack of the enemy.
If you are engaged or single, before you say “I do” to that man or woman, please check that they are the forgiving type. I had a story of a man who was dating someone a lady, he has never forgiven his friends who hurt him in years and said that openly to his girlfriend. She casually dismissed it and thought because they love each other, he will readily forgive, but realised it was not so when they got married. That is a tell-tale sign we should not dismiss when considering who to marry. We often do not consider these signs and allow falling in love to help us take our eyes off it, or believe because we love each other, that can never happen to us. What a myth, your spouse is going to annoy you the most and if you are unable to forgive people now, you will not be able to forgive your spouse.
Do you desire or want a healthy marriage? Then learn to forgive.
Why you may find it hard to forgive? Some people are naturally more forgiving than others while other people have been taught how to forgive as modelled by their parent’s forgiveness level.
If you are finding it hard to forgive, it is because you have not understood the forgiveness God gave you. The Lord’s Prayer Matthew 6:9-15 tells us to forgive others, as God forgives our sin. If you do not forgive others, how then do you expect God to forgive you?
Some spouse finds it easier to forgive people who offend them but find it difficult to forgive their spouse because of what I call “Misplaced Priority” – because you are close to me because I love you so much, you ought not to offend me this way. You should have known me better and not act that way. These are statements that a spouse who has misplaced perception and misplaced priority will make in holding onto offence by their spouse. Your spouse is the person who will offend you the most because they are the closest person to you. It is therefore important that they are the ones you pardon the most and easily. Luke 17:3-4 says: “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 4 Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”
Marriage is the university of all offence, do not marry if you cannot forgive.
How can you learn to forgive and live a life of obedience to God and improve your marital relationship?
If you find it hard to forgive, I want you to reflect on the five points below:
- Reflect on the numerous times you’ve hurt others and those who’ve forgiven you.
- Read and memorise the “Parable of The Unforgiving Servant” story in Matthew 18:21-35.
- Be ready to start practising forgiveness now, learn to overlook hurts and offences of your spouse, parents, siblings, and friends. It will become a learned behaviour and will make it easier to forgive when you are married if you are still single or engaged.
- Ask God to help you to be merciful, you are enjoying Gods mercy and grace daily.
- You are living in disobedience to God Colossians 3:13 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Does forgiveness lead to reconciliation? If the hurtful event involved someone whose relationship you otherwise value, forgiveness could lead to reconciliation. In a marriage, forgiveness should lead to reconciliation otherwise how do you build your marriage? If you are not ready to reconcile then what have you forgiven? There are cases where if the other party does not want reconciliation, you may have to forgive and let go. However, when God forgave and pardon our sins, it was to reconcile us back to himself.
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If you want a healthy and thriving marriage, you will let your forgiveness lead to reconciliation.
There is no sin too great for you to overlook is God can forgive you all your sins and allow you to be heirs of the kingdom.
Forgiveness is a process and it can require time, so allow yourself to process and deal with the hurt. Settle it with God and you will be able to settle it with men.
To become a forgiving spouse, below are practical tips you can begin to use to help you:
- Start exercising, increase dopamine, and reduce stress hormones. It will help you build your feel-good hormones, the more you feel good about yourself, the better you will feel. Practice smiling at other people etc. Giving love when you don’t have to, making it easier to show compassion toward everyone.
- Remove bad thought by replacing it with good thoughts, no vacuum. Put a picture of the person you want to forgive on your phone and pray for them. Refrain from talking negatively even if you cannot say good things yet.
- Check why you are hurting, what exactly have they done and why did it pain you so much. Your spouse’s imperfection or behaviours? Those are normal if you understand marriage itself. Your parents, colleagues, neighbours etc. it may be how you internalise things, be sincere with yourself. If someone says to me, you are not brilliant or you are not beautiful, I will find it hard to get offended because I am aware God made me beautiful and wonderful. You may be able to do this accounting on your own, or you may need the help of a therapist. However, you approach looking at your pain be sure you do it in an environment that feels safe and supportive.
- You must become empathetic to forgive someone. Empathy means to put yourself in the other person shoes for a moment and forget about yourself.
- Ask questions like, why did God allow this? And not why me? Sometimes we have to go through sufferings to get a story that can change our life. Find meaning for your suffering, did it empower you? Are you braver? What are you doing that you wouldn’t have done if this didn’t happen to you?
- Realise you cannot forgive in your own power; you need the help of the Holy Spirit and the word of God. Are you happy disobeying God because of your hurt? Will you gain this world and lose your soul? Lose your peace, your health, your inheritance, your joy, your marriage
- Forgive yourself, recognise you are an imperfect being too, don’t have an expectation that they may take you back. But, a sincere apology, free of conditions and expectations, will go a long way toward your receiving forgiveness in the end.
- Forgiveness and gratitude are closely linked – when you are grateful for what you have and where you are, you will realise, after all, what happened to you could have been worse.
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Abi Apalara loves sharing insightful information that helps couples flourish in life and their marriage relationship. I have enjoyed both good marital pleasures and challenging times in my marriage. I came to realise, the points where I missed it, were areas I lacked information on how to.
Making it up along the way, only meant I was going the wrong way. Desperately seeking to get back into marital bliss, I started exploring and reading about those areas of challenge. I also reached out to counselors and began to see what I was missing.
After a surprising move into relationship study, I have found peace of mind and happy with my marriage. I have authored the book Are you ready? Marriage expectation versus realty to share my experience and encourage men and women to work on their
marriages, by seeking knowledge and apply it to their marriage relationship.
My latest book, Are you ready? Marriage expectation versus reality focuses on discovering some of the unrealistic expectations we bring into a marriage. It comes with practical advice and a guide on how to get it right before and after getting married. You can also preorder the book here