The most important skill in maintaining unity as a couple is forgiveness. You’ll undoubtedly make mistakes, disappoint one another, and make some poor decisions. No one can deny that these things happen. The only way to keep the relationship growing in the midst of our humanity is to forgive. The Apostle Paul gave us a staggering challenge: “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13). These are some statements to help you work through the process of forgiveness.

 

1. I forgive (name of person) for (offense that was committed).

2. I admit that what was done [against me] was wrong.

3. I do not expect (name of person) to make up for what he or she has done.

4. I will not define (name of person) by what he or she has done. Instead, I will define him or her as someone who needs just as much grace in life as I do.

5. I will not manipulate (name of person) with what he or she has done.

6. I will not allow what has happened to stop my personal growth.

 

Forgiveness frees you to go forward in life and forward in all your relationships. Forgiveness is a vertical, private act between you and God. Reconciliation is a horizontal act between people who have been separated by a hurt or grievance. Reconciliation works best when both people have already walked through the six statements of forgiveness listed above. A relationship is more likely to be restored if the offending party says, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. What can I do to make things right again?” Often “what will make things right again” is an explanation, an apology, and a restitution of some kind that is freely offered. The key in this tangled and emotionally charged process of forgiveness and restoration is that each person forgives the other completely, not because anyone asks but because Christ forgave us. Forgiveness protects your integrity and your heart. Each person should freely own his or her issues. This is not the time to rationalize, blame others, or duck your guilt. Truly repentant people will say, “I am sorry. What I did was wrong. Here’s why it was wrong. Please forgive me. What can I do to help set things right again?” Then they close their mouth and listen intently and from the heart. Forgiveness is all about grace. Loving unconditionally. Love wants the best for the other person, regardless of the cost to you. Forgiveness costs emotionally, but bitterness and resentment extract even more from your life. Forgiveness is expensive; it cost Christ His life to die for the world’s imperfection. But the payoff is priceless; no amount of money can ever repay that kind of gift of love. When you grasp how much God loves you, extending grace and unconditional love to others becomes a little easier.

Now those six words, “I was wrong” and “I forgive you” when combined in our marriages are six of the most powerful words in the English language to heal a mountain of hurt or pain that has accumulated. Maybe God has spoken to you this week that He wants you to begin the process of healing your marriage through using these six words.

For the last word this week we leave you with two scripture verses to consider in conjunction with this message. James 5:16: “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man [woman] is powerful.” (I was wrong.)

Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (I forgive you.) We pray God’s richest blessing upon your marriage as you practice forgiveness.