We had just left church. I sat in the passenger seat mulling over what just happened. My husband began to drive and the silence in the car began to overtake the atmosphere. Something was wrong and it was only a matter of seconds until he figured out how mad I was. Once realizing the thickness in the atmosphere my husband asked me the familiar question, “What’s wrong? Are you mad?” I shrugged and lied, “I’m fine.” Knowing me too well he asked again, “Did I do something wrong?” I began to release my hurt in the form of tears as I told him the reason for my silence. It was an issue we had been over before. I was hurt and he was definitely in the wrong.
After I shared what was wrong, he sat there in silence. He didn’t deny it, he didn’t try to defend himself. I began to talk to God in the silence of the car. After nearly 4 years of marriage, I’ve learned to go to Jesus in the midst of an argument. He always helps us work through it, no matter how big the issue. And this was a big one for me.
How do we forgive our spouse in the midst of hurt? How do we let go of bitterness when we were wronged by the one closest to our heart? How do we change a fight into God’s victory?
As I listened to God during this situation he gave me these tools:
1. Stop and listen: To be honest, I did not want to forgive him. I didn’t want to hear him. I was right, he was wrong. He hurt me and I wanted him to hurt too. But the Holy Spirit began to whisper in my ear. I stopped and listened. I first asked God to show me what to do and what to say. And then I stopped and did my best to listen to my husband through God’s filter. To see him as God did. Invite Jesus into your argument immediately. When you start or end a fight praying together, there’s no room for bitterness to take root. Try staying mad when you’ve invited Love itself into the room. Bitterness and anger just melt away when Jesus is loving on you both.
2. I resolved in my heart that our marriage should always be fought for: I see our marriage as a precious gift that should be protected at all cost. Even at the cost of my “feelings”. Did I shove my feelings down? Absolutely not. I communicated to my husband how his actions made me feel. But then I let it go. In reality I wasn’t fighting him. There was something else that was trying to divide our marriage. I realized that my marriage was under attack and I needed to fight back. Not against my husband, but against the enemy who came to steal, kill and destroy. We needed to be unity and fight against the enemy together.
3. Forgive and let go: As much as I did not want to forgive in this moment. I knew I had to. My amazing husband even gave me the out, he said I didn’t have to forgive him right away. But God told me I had to. He reminded me that I too had made mistakes. Again, my hurt was valid and I voiced it, but then I gave it over to Jesus. I had to see my husband in the light of the Cross; forgiven. And then, you don’t bring it up again. There might be some rebuilding. But you never use a past sin as ammo. Their slate is clean every time; just like your’s is with Jesus.
4. Honor your spouse for who God says they are: This is one that has saved our marriage. We always state how we feel, but never degrade or put down the other person. God has taught us that we need to honor them for who they are, not necessarily how they are acting. And after a fight it’s hard to say, “ You are a good husband. I love how you lead our family and how you love me,” and mean it with sincerity. But that makes the world of a difference. You are speaking life over your spouse and your marriage. By faith you are coming into agreement with how God desires your marriage to be. Declare God’s truth over your spouse and your marriage and you will begin to see the change in both of you.
5. And last, come up with a plan: In our situation there was some practical things that needed to change. If we just pray, apologize and forgive, but don’t put any practical plans in place to actually help us move forward or to not run into this problem again; we would definitely be around this mountain again. We asked the Holy Spirit for strategy on how to avoid this issue. What practical things could we put into place to make sure that we didn’t end up here again? Whatever your plan may be, put it in place so you are prepared next time the enemy tries to hit you in this area.
No marriage is perfect. Because you guessed it, two imperfect people must learn to become one. No matter the reason for the hurt we must never let bitterness take root. Forgiving and letting go is hard, but when you choose to love instead, God comes in and makes that weak area strong. When both of you resolve to always bring Jesus into your arguments, you’ll find that it’s easier to resolve and end in love. Because Love covers a multitude of sins.