If your spouse has hurt you, the issue must be addressed, but avoid showing frustration to one another for things other people have done. Don’t permit unfair marital frustration.
- Don’t make your spouse pay for mistakes he or she didn’t commit.
- Don’t make your spouse pay for the mistakes you committed.
- Don’t make your spouse pay for mistakes you have forgiven.
If your spouse didn’t commit the hurt, don’t make him or her pay for the damage. The past can dominate your marriage through unresolved conflict from other relationships. Whether your family, friends, or former relationships caused the pain, unforgiven offenses will cause unnecessary 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 the fall guy or gal.
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 you must 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.
You haven’t forgiven your spouse for 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 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 or accepting forgiveness, most situations in our past revolve around our inability to experience it. Jesus even teaches us to pray that God would “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matt. 6:12). Do I want to pray that God would show me the kind of grace 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 whenever 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?
What God has joined together, let no past separate.
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Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.
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