As we noted in a prior post, conflict is a normal part of every marriage.
But we have a problem when our conflict fails to achieve a godly purpose.
No marital conflict is ever pretty or perfect but it can result in intimacy when it has these results in our relationship.
It exposes our hearts – we see our desires and values as they are rather than what we want to believe
It improves our understanding – we see our spouse’s perspective and differences as valuable
It tests our belief in God’s word – we see the gap between what we say and what we really believe
It challenges our selfishness – we see what needs to change if we want God’s peace and purpose
It gives us new options to explore – we see new ways to change our future and grow
It opens new paths for our spiritual growth – we know better what we need to pray for in our relationship
It rebuilds unity as we pursue a common solution – we see the value of our spouse in our growth to maturity
These sound great, but…
Many of us see conflict as a contest to dominate our spouse and get our desires met.
When this happens, it is a knife into the heart of our marriage.
Sure, we may walk away feeling like we won but the truth is that it is a loss for both of us if we cannot restore intimacy after the conflict.
And that is why we all need to learn and practice the skill of FORGIVENESS.
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”
– Louis B. Smedes
Forgiveness may not be part of your story. It certainly wasn’t mine.
I grew up rarely considering or asking for forgiveness.
To me, asking for forgiveness was a sign of weakness because I didn’t want to admit my imperfections. I wasn’t willing to confront my sin because it exposed my insecurity.
Even today I struggle to ask for forgiveness because of my belief that admitting my mistakes confirms there is something wrong with me. It tears at my desire to believe that I can be perfect and good.
And who doesn’t want to think they are a “good” person?
It’s really ironic because there is truth I’m avoiding.
I can deny it but the truth is that I am never perfect. And rarely as right or good as I think. Because there is something innately wrong with me.
No matter how much I don’t want to admit it, I am one who was born with a sinful heart. A rebel toward God because of my self-centered pride. And it is a daily struggle to put that pride to death. But all is not lost.
For God loves me (and you) enough to call us back to Him. And He has done this with FORGIVENESS. Not because we deserved it but because He valued the relationship with us over the judgement we deserved.
Jesus took the judgement.
We got the relationship.
And that is the same way it should be with our spouse. But only as you and I learn the skill of forgiveness and practice it well.
And that is a topic to large to fit in this small post. But I have a solution.
You can DOWNLOAD this overview about Forgiveness from my Anger Course.
Also if you want to go deeper, here is a WORKSHEET for writing down your thoughts on forgiving others.
“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
And here are some other articles on Forgiveness to explore!
Four Questions to discuss about Forgiveness
How would you rate your skill to offer forgiveness (1 to 10)?
How would you rate your skill to receive forgiveness (1 to 10)?
What do you fear most if you offer forgiveness after a conflict?
How was the skill of Forgiveness practiced in your family as you grew up?