The power of forgiveness in marriage can’t be understated. When you sign up for a lifelong partnership with someone, it’s inevitable that you will rub each other the wrong way. When two imperfect people spend so many years together, some unfortunate arguments are sure to come of it.
It is important to note that forgiveness isn’t some cheap trick to employ in an effort to save your marriage. It needs to be genuine. It needs to be real. It needs to have no strings attached. When forgiveness is a constant practice, your love will stay stronger and you’ll experience less resentment towards your partner. The more willing you are to put forgiveness at the forefront of how you operate, the better off your marriage will be in the long run.
Why is forgiveness important?
Let’s face it: everyone makes mistakes. You will. They will. If you can start by acknowledging this fact, the act of forgiveness will become easier and easier. If you know you’d want the same level of forgiveness in return, you’ll be quicker to let it go when your partner slips up.
If a relationship or a marriage is built on a foundation that has no room to forgive, there won’t be much to build on from there. With every mistake, there will be an argument. With every argument, the issue will go unresolved. Then that issue that you thought you’d moved past will rear its head when you least expect it.
It could be a year, 5 years, or 10 years down the line and that festering bit of resentment will show itself in the form of anger, infidelity, or disconnection.
This is why forgiveness is so important. Without it, every little quarrel and disagreement in your marriage will just continue to stew below the surface of your seemingly normal relationship. It will only be a matter of time before someone hits a nerve that causes that unresolved anger to erupt.
The ability to forgive will allow you to squelch the resentment in your relationship and grow with each disagreement, rather than stay stuck by every action or argument that has left you steaming with anger.
Forgiveness isn’t for them, it’s for you
“Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace.”
-Jonathan Lockwood Huie
Many people view the concept of forgiveness in a different light than it is intended to be seen. We think that by forgiving someone we’re letting them off the hook or letting it go to keep the peace within the relationship. In reality, the act of forgiveness is a selfish one.
Every time you hold a grudge because of something that someone else did to you–whether it be your husband, wife, or any other person you’re keeping your evil eye locked on–you are the one that is holding onto that tension.They might feel bad, but you always feel worse. You think that your cold shoulder or cutting remarks are giving them the hell that is well deserved, but you’re really trapping yourself in your own firestorm.
By choosing to forgive your partner, you are putting down the baggage that you’ve carried around for so long. You’re choosing to take that stress off of your shoulders and relieve yourself of duty.
By saying, “I forgive you,” you get to step outside of that resentment, anger, or disdain for your partner, and open up mental space to move past it. The longer you hold onto it, the crazier you will feel. Understanding that forgiveness is for you will make it easier for you to start the process. Once you know that you’re relieving stress from your world, you’ll be more readily available to have that conversation.
Don’t expect anything in return
If you take the high road and decide to forgive your partner, you need to do so with no strings attached. You can’t use it as a power play to get something in return. If you’re choosing to forgive them, you truly have to be ready to let it go and move on. If they forgot your anniversary and you decide to forgive them, you can’t throw that back in their face next anniversary.
If they cheated on you and you choose to forgive them and work on your relationship, you can’t play the “you cheated on me” card whenever you want to get your way.
True forgiveness means acknowledging what happened and choosing to love that person in spite of their actions. It could be something big or something small, but if you choose to forgive, you can’t revisit that moment over and over again, riding out the guilt trip of “Remember when I forgave you for that terrible thing you did?” whenever you want. It’s over. You’re moving past it. The more you use it as ammo against them, the less likely it is that you actually forgave them in the first place.
The power of forgiveness
Now that we’ve discussed why it’s important, who really benefits from the act of forgiveness, and how to go about forgiving someone, it’s time we got to the juice of the article: the power that forgiveness can bring you and your partner. When you and your partner choose to forgive each other and work through your problems in an empathetic way, you are choosing love. That’s what marriage is all about; choosing love every single day, even when it’s hard.
You may have had a fight so bad that you can’t stand looking at your partner, but you love them more than the feeling of being angry at them. You may disagree in such a way that you don’t want to hear them speak, but you know you love them more than allowing the argument to spiral out of control.
When you choose to forgive and move past your differences, you continually are choosing love. Marriages that last are those that keep coming back to why they started in the first place: love. Forgive fast. Forgive often. Keep choosing love as often as you can.