Let Your Spouse Off the Hook

Marriage is bound to have some troubles.  You must address conflict with your spouse wisely, and many things need to be addressed.  But I believe there are some things of which you simply need to let your spouse off the hook.

Don’t get me wrong: some things need to be addressed!  But you need to address that which the spouse deserves to have addressed.

I realized early in marriage that I never responded to my wife based solely on what she said or did.  I noticed that something small could somehow turn big quickly.  How could that be?  It’s because we filter every one of our responses through our past experiences.  Previous circumstances layer every situation.  I’m not just responding to that situation at that moment, I am responding to everything leading up to that situation at that moment.  The particular scenario didn’t deserve that layered of a response. 

Our pasts have a way to amplify our feelings and multiply our comebacks.  

  1. Don’t make your spouse pay for mistakes he or she didn’t commit. 
  2. Don’t make your spouse pay for the mistakes you committed. 
  3. Don’t make your spouse pay for mistakes you have forgiven. 

#1. If your spouse didn’t commit the hurt, don’t make him or her pay for the damage. 

The past can dominate your marriage by unresolved conflict from other relationships.  Whether your family, friends, or former relationships caused the pain, unforgiven offenses will cause unwarranted frustrations.  In many cases, the offender isn’t still around, but the offended still wants to get back at him or her.  It’s not fair to make your spouse be the fall guy or gal.

#2. Don’t make your spouse pay for your issues either. 

Stop giving him or her the bill for what you broke.  Just because you fell and are embarrassed or devastated by that fact doesn’t mean that you need to blame your spouse for your poor decisions.  An inability to acknowledge complete forgiveness from God for our sins will cause you to be bitter, cold, and distant.  Your spouse needs today’s you and not yesterday’s you.  Deal with your issues in the past and keep them there.

#3. You haven’t forgiven your spouse for the past offenses if you continually bring them up. 

Giving forgiveness lip-service is not helpful to a marriage if you maintain a level of bitterness that you consider to be advantageous to your agenda.  Holding a grudge reveals that I believe Jesus’ blood is sufficient to forgive my sins against God but not enough to forgive your offenses committed against me.  Forgive like Jesus.

If you notice, all three of these scenarios need the same thing – forgiveness. 

Whether it’s offering forgiveness or accepting forgiveness, most situations in our past revolve around our inability to experience it.  We are even taught by Jesus to pray that God would “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matt. 6:12).  Do I really want to pray that God would show me the kind of grace that I have shown others?    

In Matthew 18:21-35, Jesus taught a parable about forgiveness.  A peasant was forgiven a debt that equaled about 200,000 years of salary by his master and yet unwilling to forgive a fellow peasant about one-third of a year’s salary.  Seems shocking?  It is!  And we do it every time we refuse to forgive someone and move past our past. 

You have been forgiven a massive debt incurred by your sin, why not take some of that grace and share it with your spouse?

Travis Agnew is married to Amanda and the father of two sons and one daughter. He serves as the Senior Pastor of Rocky Creek Baptist Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is What God Has Joined Together.