Forgiveness in marriage can be a difficult subject as forgiveness is one of the most misunderstood words in our language today. Though forgiveness does not come natural to us, it is, nonetheless an all important subject if you are going to progress in your marriage relationship.
If That’s Forgiveness . . .
I often hear people say something to the effect of “I’ve forgiven him / her, but I just have a hard time being around them.” or “I’ve forgive him / her, but he / she just gets under my skin.”. Others make statements like “I’m a very forgiving person, but this, I just can’t overlook.”.
To the above mentioned statements, I often respond by saying, “If that’s forgiveness, then I’d hate to see unforgiveness.”
Forgiveness in marriage is not a feeling that we have deep within the inner sanctum of our being. Forgiveness is a choice to do following:
1. To love the other person as if they were already exactly what you expect them to be (I Corinthians 13:7).
2. To work on the relationship without using the past in a way that makes the other person feel inferior (Philippians 3:13).
3. To speak to that person in a way that is kind, cordial, and appropriate (Ephesians 4:29-31).
4. To refrain from speaking to others about the other person in a negative context (Ephesians 4:29-31 and Matthew 18:15).
5. To refrain from dwelling on the issue in a negative manner within the realm of your own mind and heart (Philippians 4:8).
6. To dwell on the other person’s positive points and not their shortcomings (Philippians 4:8).
God’s Example of Forgiveness
What has helped me to formulate these principles on forgiveness is the example that God has set in regards to forgiveness. In other words, if this is the way God treats us when He forgives us, then we should be willing to emulate the same behavior when we say that we forgive others.
Of course, there are times when husbands and wives should exercise tough love. There are also other occasions when even though you are possessing a spirit of forgiveness, you have to makes certain moves to protect yourself and possibly your children. However, in my estimation, there are a vast majority of people that believe they have forgiven their spouse, but they may be sadly mistaken in that they are not imitating God’s example of forgiveness.
I know the passage of forgiving 70 time 7 because my husband throws it in my face often. He can be very mean and claims to have “traditional values” as household things and serving him. However, me working is not “traditional” and he has no issue with me working, likely because it’s money coming in and that benefits him by taking some of the financial responsibility off of him.
I work full time and do my best to take care of the home with minimal help from him. I do ask him to do little things like out the trash, recycle, fold a load of laundry. He is trying to start his own business, which takes time and he works a part time job but refuses to get a full time job where he works for someone else. He says that he wants his “discretionary time” and will not take a job working outside of the house for someone else being told what do to. He’s 48, so too young to retire.
I do not make enough to cover all of the expenses. He tells me he’s doing his part and it’s his perogative to work less because he’s always worked full time and that I’m just bitter because I don’t have a lot of “Discretionary time” like he does and because I’m making more money than he does. In the day when he is not doing something for business he wants to grow and not at part time job, he spends hours on video games. I truly do enjoy my job but I don’t feel that he is being the provider that he is called to be and taking care of his family. I did reach out to our accountant and if he continues to do this and his business doesn’t grow, he is putting us in financial harm because he is not having taxes taken out of what money he earns, he says he will deal with it later. So really, what he should be even less because he is living off of his gross pay. This has created huge strain in our relationship and has affected our intimate life as well. He gets angry with me and calls me a hypocrite telling me that as much time as I spend in my Bible that I should know I’m not honoring God and that I have no right to turn him away physically. He tells me that the Bible commands me to love him. (I have tried showing him that the Bible calls men to love their wives and wives to respect…but he tells me I’m wrong so it’s pointless to argue when I know truth). I have lost respect for him and I am really struggling with how to respect a man who is always saying that he wants things to be easy and he only has one life and doesn’t want to spend it working his time away or doing chores. He wants to do what he wants to do and not do things he doesn’t like to do, anything that involves “work” he wants to do as little as possible so he can enjoy life. This sounds like a bratty kid to me and so I deeply struggle with how to be respectful of him. I have shared with him my difficulty in respecting him and he tells me I’m wrong and not honoring God. Our children are 19 and 21 and they hear the things he says and how he talks to me and one of them told me I should move out, he’s too much and this isn’t healthy. I want to honor God in this and I want to do what is right in the eyes of God and I want to be forgiving but I wonder at what point is it enabling?? He will not let me go to counseling because he says it’s none of anyone’s business what he’s doing and not doing, he’s not beating me and so I should have nothing to complain about. I am so so blessed. I have great job, wonderful friends, great kids, supportive family, I really have so much to be thankful for. I don’t see this getting better, he is so set in his ideology and how he thinks that there is no getting thru to him. His parents have tried to speak truth to him and he has told them to mind their own business. His part time job is at the church and nobody there has any idea of the reality of things and I am fearful of saying anything because he is a master manipulator (according to his mom) and he will deny everything and be very angry with me. I feel stuck. Years ago a counselor told me that he is disgenuine and says what people want to hear and then does another and until he submits himself to the authority of Christ, things will not change. And I see that his withdrawing into his video game has grown. He will spend easily 7-8 hours a day on it on the weekends. Sadly, because there is such strain in the relationship, I kind of am at point where I don’t care. I’m content to read, crochet, spend time with kids do things I need to do around the house. Very sad.
But God is good and like in Psalm 65:11…”You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.” I feel that and see that in my life, this is hard. This is not the marriage I had hoped for but God has sure blessed me in other areas, greatly!!
Can you possibly expand on reasons why one should protect themself? In general, of course.