“A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” – Ruth Bell Graham
We all have something that trips us up, right? For some of us, it is gossip. Others struggle with gluttony. Excessive amounts of alcohol tempt even the most professional business person. Not one of us can say we have no struggles. (Remember that if you find yourself jealous of someone else’s life.)
“Sally’s boyfriend does such thoughtful acts of kindness for her.”
“Todd’s girlfriend never puts him down in public.”
“It must be nice to have the money to travel every other month like Jim and Denise!”
Maybe you have entertained similar thoughts while looking at someone’s “perfect” life on Facebook? The truth is Sally’s boyfriend may give her nice gifts because he is secretly abusing her. Todd’s girlfriend may not put him down in public, but she may laugh at him behind his back with her girlfriends. Jim and Denise may travel constantly to fill a void of emotional intimacy in their relationship.
Everyone has a lesser known chapter to their story. On the surface, we may think we want their fabulous life; but, underneath, there are surely some wounds.
Does He Want to Forgive? Does She Refuse to Forgive?
One hidden sin many people deal with is unforgiveness. Some personalities let small grievances roll off their backs with ease; whereas, others struggle to forgive even the tiniest misstep. Before we judge them too harshly, let us remember all the ways they could judge us if they knew our hearts.
If your sweetheart seems to struggle with forgiveness, this could be a problem. If he or she wants to forgive but is struggling, at least the desire to forgive is present. That is huge! If he or she feels completely justified in holding onto anger, then that would definitely concern me.
Most adults have been hurt in their lives and can empathize with someone who is on a restorative journey. However, some people hold on to their wounds like shields. “As long as I remember how much you hurt me, I can make sure you never get close enough to hurt me again.” Though this emotion may be understandable, it is concerning in a potential marriage partner.
Currently, it may seem unlikely that you and your sweetie will ever hurt each other, but you surely will – sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally. If you marry a man or woman who wallows in pain and refuses to move past it, it is only a matter of time before you are the one your sweetheart is pushing away – possibly forever.
The Pain is Real, But We Cannot Hide Forever
Regardless of how justified we feel in holding onto our grudges, keeping them with us is damaging. Somehow we think we are punishing our perpetrators by squeezing them to death repeatedly in our minds; but, they are off living their lives somewhere else, likely not thinking about us at all.
Grudges keep us self-centered. When we hold tight to a grudge, we turn our focus inward and how we have been wronged. When we are inside staring at ourselves in the mirror, we cannot be outside loving on our community.
Grudges make it difficult to love fully. How can we pour our heart into loving someone deeply when it is so filled with bitterness and wrath? When we nurse the hurt, how long can we last before taking our pain out on the ones we love? One person may have broken your heart, but if you do not forgive her, you will likely punish the next one for the first person’s mistakes. Your past is not that next person’s fault; yet, if you take it out on her, you could destroy a wonderful relationship.
Grudges also keep our hearts from God. “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15, ESV). Ouch.
It is foolish to think we can seal our hearts off from ever being hurt again. Life is a series of joy and pain. Holding on to grudges stunts our growth. We cannot move on to bigger and better adventures when we are weighed down with our own bitterness. It is never worth holding that grudge.
How Necessary is it To Marry a Forgiver?
I cannot adequately put into words how important it is to marry someone who is willing to forgive. Out of the thousands of people you will meet in your lifetime, your marriage partner may be the one who hurts you the most. You will be with this person constantly. His or her decisions will affect you. Your one true love will make hurtful comments and maybe even rip your heart out and stomp on it.
If your sweetheart is sure to hurt you, the opposite is also true.
If your sweetie does not believe in forgiveness, you will either have a long, disconnected road ahead of you, or he or she will leave you in search of that perfect person – a long and pointless journey many people take.
No happy marriage which has lasted longer than two weeks is made up of people who cannot forgive. Marriage will offer you many opportunities to forgive and some grievances will be easier to forgive than others. You are going to slip up and make your honey mad. You will likely make statements that leave you in awe and wonder. “Did I really just say his breath stinks and I cannot stand his Mama?” If you accept someone who cannot forgive as your spouse, YOU will be the recipient of many cold shoulders, accusations, and unrealistic expectations.
You may love this man or woman dearly, but if he or she struggles to let go of past wrongs, do not leap to the altar too quickly. Suggest counseling. Be willing to go with him or her. Talk about your concerns. Step back and notice improvements and heart changes. If your special someone refuses to acknowledge the problem, refuses to repent, and refuses to get needed help, I would not recommend getting engaged or married to this person. Life with an angry, bitter person will be long and lonely – and you will probably never be able to meet his or her demands for perfection.
Are you dating a good forgiver? If so, do not take him or her for granted! If you are struggling to forgive, check your heart. Do you need to repent? Spend some time with the Lord? Seek a Christian counselor to talk through your hurts? If so, I would encourage you to do those which apply. They may be the best moves you ever make for the health of your relationship. ~smile~
Are you and your sweetie both good forgivers?