This post coincides with our 3rd month as husband and wife. Only 3 months into this marriage and I’m gonna talk about forgiveness, ha!
It is a relief that we have not gotten into some deep trouble in our marriage – yet. But ours isn’t free from mistakes, arguments, and sins against each other. One thing that struck me (and convinced me) to write about this topic is an email read from OMF Lit just yesterday.
Reading this has made me realize how important forgiveness is in a relationship, more so in a marriage. One cannot stay married unless one is willing to change, and the other – to forgive. And forgiving is hard, right? Especially when the hurt is too much or if the sin committed is repeated again and again. But a lot of marriage experts say that there is no other way to succeed in marriage unless both parties learn to forgive one another.
Here’s the email message:
No one is married to a perfect spouse. Annoyances and hurts are guaranteed. To maintain peace in the marriage, should couples keep silent or should they get into a heated discussion? In this excerpt from the Gintong Aklat award winning The Honeymoon Never Ends, Nelson Dy lists at least three things couples need to consider.
Is the offense an innocent mistake or is it something done deliberately and/or regularly?
It is one thing when, one night, the husband forgot to buy some groceries that his wife had asked him to buy; it is another when he yells at her every night. Definitely, the behavior of the second husband has to be dealt with. But there are women who would tell the first husband, “You always forget! I really can’t rely on you!” and forget that, overall, he is really a wonderful guy (definitely not one who yells). So, rather than logging the forgotten groceries on the minus side of the scorecard, she should just drop the matter.
Is tolerating the offense detrimental not only to you, but also to your spouse?
Let’s go back to the yelling husband. You may be expecting me to counsel the wife to simply turn a deaf ear, smile sweetly and forgive him. I would give no such counsel, because I don’t think we should leave it at that. True, she may be remarkably patient now; but I suspect that the husband’s shouting will get into her nerves. Her unhappiness and stress will build up, and it will only be a matter of time before she explodes, breaks down and flees.
Furthermore, to allow the husband to raise his voice at her is to perpetuate in him an immature and ultimately sinful state. I believe that the “one flesh” concept of marriage includes a mystery that when a husband hurts his wife, he is also hurting himself. The wife does the husband no favors if she sees him doing wrong and does not correct him.
Is the offense just a matter of personal preference or is it a clear sin?
A husband may be rankled that his wife keeps squeezing the toothpaste tube from the middle when he wants it squeezed from the end. But he crosses the line if he scours the Bible for a verse that shows her idiosyncrasy to be at par with cold-hearted murder. Similarly, if it is an idiosyncrasy that I can live with,
I don’t even have to keep a scorecard for it.
Here is the crux of the matter: To burn the scorecard is to choose to forgive rather than nurture resentment. I am not saying burning the scorecard is easy. It is not like waving some magic wand and the hurt disappears. It just doesn’t work that way. It helps, though, to keep the bigger picture in mind: Which would you rather have, feel the pain of letting the spouse of the hook now and dance in liberation from bitterness tomorrow; or indulge in the pain of offense and in fantasies of vengeance today, tomorrow, next month, next year…and see your marriage deteriorate before both your and your spouse’s eyes?
You might be asking: If marriage is all about forgiving the other despite the hurt – is marriage just about suffering? And how about your own happiness?
But is happiness God’s ultimate goal in marriage? Being happy in marriage is possible and happiness will be the fruit of those who follow God’s plan for marriage. But happiness is not God’s primary goal for marriage…. God’s primary goal for marriage is holiness… When both the husband and wife determine to define their marriage by holiness, the ultimate result becomes happiness.
– Pierre Eade