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The Secret Weapon to a Stronger Marriage

Posted on April 09, 2024 in: Marriage

The Secret Weapon to a Stronger Marriage

Embracing Forgivness in Four Words

 

“Will you forgive me?” I will never forget the power of those four words the first time my husband asked them of me. In many ways, they meant more to me than him saying, “I love you,” because the very fact that he acknowledged that he had hurt me and wanted to make things right in our relationship was a vivid example of his love for me.

In the intimate relationship of marriage, it is inevitable that couples will hurt one another. Most times, those hurts are slight and unintentional, like using curt words when we are speaking, losing our patience, forgetting to follow through on something we said we would do or raising our voices in a moment of frustration. These are not serious things, but if they hurt our spouse and we don’t seek to mend the rift between us by consciously asking for and granting forgiveness of one another, that rift can grow deeper causing greater distance between us.  Choosing to forgive allows us to let go of the hurt and anger we might feel toward one another and work toward healing instead.

Because my husband means so much to me, I want to treat our relationship with the utmost care and respect. When I hurt him and ask for his forgiveness, I move out of my self-centered heart and put him first, showing him how much I value him and our relationship. In those instances, I am choosing to love as Jesus does.

When my husband and I went on a Worldwide Marriage Encounter Experience several years ago, we learned the distinction between saying, “I’m sorry” to one another and asking the other, “Will you forgive me?” Saying, ‘I’m sorry” is a superficial gesture that lets me off the hook. It merely expresses my regret at doing something wrong. In asking my husband, “Will you forgive me?” I humble myself and become vulnerable because I give him the power to decide whether he will forgive me or not. 

If I am the person asking for forgiveness, I have to recognize that I have failed my husband and need to be forgiven. If I am the person granting forgiveness, I have to make sure that my husband hears and understands the depth of my hurt. I need to know that his request for forgiveness is a sincere effort to change his behavior and not just an empty apology.

Forgiveness is critical to a successful marriage. Without it, healthy relationships can weaken. With it, those same relationships can be transformed and renewed. This is not to say that asking for and granting forgiveness from a spouse is easy to do as it requires letting go of pride and bruised egos. But if it brings unity and healing back into a fractured relationship, it is well worth the effort.

As Pope Francis says, forgiveness is: “What every human heart yearns for most deeply, because, after all, to be forgiven means to be loved for who we are, despite our limitations…We cannot live without forgiving one another, or at least we cannot live well.”

 

By Mary-Jo McLaughlin


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