Good, I got your attention!
Now you’re wondering… Did she really say the F-word? How could she? I thought this was a PG site. Okay, it’s not the F-word you are thinking of. But this word, to some, is just as bad. It’s treated with contempt and bad looks. What is this horrible most awful F-word? Forgive!
What is so bad about this word anyways? Why is it one of the least used and most discarded words in marriage? Why are we afraid to use it?
I think many times, we feel that if we use the word forgive, it means that we are accepting the wrong someone did to us and excusing them from what they did. If we use it, it might mean that we are weak. That we can’t stand up for ourselves. That we are letting someone else walk all over us. It might mean that we are saying, it’s okay that you hurt me, it’s no big deal.
That couldn’t be further from the truth. When someone does something wrong or hurtful to you, it can be downright painful. It can feel like the end-of-the-world, or that you are not liked or even hated. Who wants those feelings looming over them, feeling down and depressed?
Did you know that forgiveness is for us, for you? It’s not for the person that has wronged you. They will actually have to answer to God for the hurt they caused His people. So why should you even entertain the thought of forgiving someone that has hurt you?
First, we need to know what forgiveness means. Let’s look at the definition to begin to understand.
[Forgiveness] To pardon; to remit, as an offense or debt; to overlook an offense, and treat the offender as not guilty. The original and proper phrase is to forgive the offense, to send it away, to reject it, that is, not to impute it, [put it to] the offender. But by an easy transition, we also use the phrase, to forgive the person offending.
There is a lot to forgiving. You are essentially overlooking something that someone did to you in a wrong manner. I like what the definition above says, “to send it away, to reject it,” it’s as if to say that you are not going to even allow the offense to sit in your thoughts. You aren’t going to dwell on it. It’s not allowed near you.
Essentially, you are going to take a baseball bat and send that offense away, as far as you can so that it won’t return to you. It’s basically going to turn into a home run, hitting it out of the field where no one can fetch it and bring it back to you. You are taking one for the team here and moving past the offense.
But why would you want to treat an hurt and offense in that manner? I mean… if your spouse is going to say hurtful words to you, go behind your back, spread rumors, treat you with unkindness, why in the world wouldn’t you want to just retaliate or hold onto that offense and let it roll around in your head for a while and just be angry and mad at him or her?
When you do that, hold onto a hurt, you are creating strife within yourself and with the other person that hurt you. Holding onto an offense longterm will cause division in your marriage and family and eventually divorce will follow.
What is strife? Contention in anger or enmity; contest; struggle for victory; quarrel or war. Did you see that? War! Can your marriage survive war? Strife includes resentment, bitterness and hatred. No marriage or even friendship can survive this kind of treatment. And who would want to live under these conditions?
Unforgiveness effects you more than the person that offended you. Your spouse may not even realize that he or she hurt you. Maybe they do know, maybe they did do it on purpose. But…if you hold onto the wrong that they are doing to you, then you are letting them win even more. Forgiving stops them in their tracks. If you can brush it off, forgive them and forget about it, then they can’t hurt you.
However, forgiving doesn’t stop at forgiving.
There are 2-parts to the F-Word. Forgive and Forget!
You can’t forgive without forgetting the offense. If you don’t forget about it, you are still holding on to it mulling it around in your head. Then you truly have not forgiven your spouse yet.
If you want your marriage to improve, then you will have to forgive your spouse and forget about what he or she did. It’s the first step and it is essential!
Actually, you will never move onto a happy marriage until you can use the F-Word! I Forgive You!
What if your spouse keeps on keeping on with the offenses and hurts? You are to keep on forgiving him or her just the same. In Luke 17:1-4, it tells us that there will be things that cause us to stumble and that we need to get beyond those things that make us stumble. Staying mad and not forgiving our spouse can make us stumble. It causes us to be angry and do or say things that we shouldn’t. This verse says that we must forgive many times over, no matter what the offense is that others do to us, as long as they repent.
What if they don’t say they are sorry? What if they don’t think they did anything wrong? Even if they don’t say that they are sorry, still forgive.
If it’s something they don’t think they did, then simply let them know how you feel, how you are hurt. Be firm, but kind when explaining. They just may not realize that something they did or are doing is really getting to you and hurting you. Forgive them. You don’t even need to say the words out loud to them, especially if they don’t feel that they did something wrong. Forgive them and let it go. Forget. If you don’t you will continue to be mad and it will affect you more than them!
Take your hurts before God, give him your burdens, let him carry your worries. Forgive your spouse and give it to God. He can take much better care of our situations if we just let Him. He wants to. He is there for you. But, you can’t be bitter and be in unforgiveness before God. He forgave you and me for all that we did, no matter what it was. We need to be able to forgive our spouse, or those that hurt us, just the same.
What Does Unforgiveness Do To Our Bodies?
You might not think that unforgiveness has any physical affect on your body, but studies prove over and over again that it can reek havoc on us physically and mentally. Not only does unforgiveness destroy marriages, but it can destroy your health too.
There is a huge burden unforgiveness puts on your body. When you are angry and in the mode to never forgive, your body goes into fight or flight mode, causing your systems to go haywire and creating many changes. “Those changes, then, increase the risk of depression, heart disease and diabetes, among other conditions.(1)”
Good news! If you forgive then “Studies have found that the act of forgiveness can reap huge rewards for your health, lowering the risk of heart attack; improving cholesterol levels and sleep; and reducing pain, blood pressure, and levels of anxiety, depression and stress. And research points to an increase in the forgiveness-health connection as you age.” (Read more on Forgiveness: Your Health Depends on It)
HOW TO USE THE F-WORD
Forgiveness is not a feeling it’s a decision. You must decide to forgive and follow through with that decision. It needs to be a permanent decision not one that you will take back. Say, “I Forgive You.”(See Matthew 6:12-14)
Forget about the offense. Treat it as it never happened. Hit it out of the ballpark for it to never return. If you hit it infield (only sorta forget about the offense) it will be thrown back to you at a speed you can barely see. Then you will have to wait until it’s your turn to try to get rid of it again and hit it out of the ballpark. Forget about the offense, get rid of it now. Let it go (as the Frozen song says!)
3. Be The First to Say “I Forgive You” or “Sorry”
Quit waiting for your spouse to say sorry. Just forgive them. Be the first. And if you have offended him or her, be the first to say sorry.
Pray for your spouse. Pray for yourself! When you are praying for others, wishing them the best, wanting better for them, it’s hard to hold a grudge and resentment against them. If God tells us to pray for our enemies, how much more should we pray for our spouses? (See Luke 6:27-28)
5. Forgive again and again and again
Don’t expect to need to forgive only one time in your marriage. Many things will happen over the lifetime your marriage where you will need to forgive and forget.
Marriage isn’t always an easy journey. It takes much work and commitment. The reward of having a companion, a friend, an ally in your life is well worth the time and effort it takes to make your marriage work.
Don’t give up. Try something new. Use the F-Word and bring back love into your marriage! And some romance!
Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. So watch yourselves.
“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 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.” (Luke 17:1-4)
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