I know you will agree with me that having a healthy, holy marriage is just a lot of hard work. Daily work.
We never "arrive" at a complete state of perfection in our relationships with our spouses.
Every so often, I come across someone who says, "My mate and I never fight." When I hear that, I make a mental note to teach on lying. :) :)
Debbie and I like to say that we've been married for 34 years (20 of them pretty good!) :) :)
No matter how hard two people try to love and please each other, they will fail.
What's the safety net?
What's the one thing that will maintain an open, intimate and happy marriage?
Asking for and granting forgiveness quickly.
I don't need to tell you that Jesus taught a lot about forgiveness and the fact - well let me just quote Him from Matthew 6:14, 15: "For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions."
God expects us to be "forgivers" - and marriage is the supreme setting for implanting this practice.
To forgive means this: "To give up resentment or the desire to punish."
Forgiveness is a choice. An act of the will.
It is not an emotion. Forgiveness is an act that says, "I am letting this go - now I am going to drain my emotions and process my feeling of disappointment or rejection." It may take a while for your feelings to catch up with your will.
You say, "I cannot forgive you," - that translates out as: "I choose not to forgive you."
Forgiveness is saying: "I am sorry." "Please forgive me." "I was wrong."
Forgiveness is not just feeling sorry that the person feels bad or has been hurt - true forgiveness accepts that wrong has been done and take ownership of that.
That is hard when you're 60 percent right and only 40 percent wrong - and 60/40 situations come up all of the time.
You and your spouse are angry with one another. The battle lines are drawn. Your ticked off.
Verbal blows have been given. Wounds have been created and scars are beginning to pile up upon scars.
Here's what I also know: To truly forgive, we need the help of the Holy Spirit.
"God, you have to help me here. I need to move to forgiveness because you have commanded me to do so. I need you to empower me, to enable me to give up the right of punishing my spouse and to forgive."
What if the person just keeps doing it again and again?
Forgiveness is tough when there has been no authentic repentance on the offender's part.
In that case boundaries and consequences need to be established - in some cases restitution will need to be made - but that does not take away from the fact that Jesus (Matthew 18:21-22) tells us to keep on forgiving - and saying, "I forgive you, and if you are really serious about being forgiven, I would ask that your actions show some believable repentance."
Ruth Bell Graham says it in just a powerful way: "A good marriage is the union of two forgivers."
Think about the issues and situations where you find it hard to forgive your spouse. Write down why it is hard to forgive.
In prayer and as an act of your will, give up "your rights" to punish your spouse.
Write across your list of offenses and hurts a statement of forgiveness.
Live in freedom.
Just a thought for a Thursday.