Sustaining a joy-filled marriage is hard work. When two people get married and live together, the challenges of everyday life start adding up. Between our different personalities, the demands of work, raising children, extended family, married couples can occasionally get on each other’s nerves. It’s inevitable that eventually we’re going to bump into each other and cause some hurts between us. When this happens, we need forgiveness and healing to repair our relationship .
Have you ever considered the difference between saying “I’m sorry” and asking for forgiveness? There’s a huge difference. When we say, “I’m sorry,” we’ve really just unloaded our own guilt and washed our hands of the matter. When we ask, instead, for forgiveness, we are granting the other person the power to either accept or reject our request. We empower them by giving them a choice. Asking for forgiveness, means asking for a response. It is the first step in the healing process.
Here’s an example. Recently, Stephanie was talking to me and I was not listening attentively. I actually walked away in the middle of her sentence. She saw herself as unimportant. I knew I had really hurt her with my behavior. I said to her, “Would you please forgive me for not listening to you and walking away?” She said, “Yes, I forgive you.” Immediately, the sadness began to dissipate, and we experienced healing between us.
Of course, there are times when one of us isn’t ready right at that moment to let go of the matter. At these times, we need to let our spouse know, “I’m sorry, I need some time to process” and then return to them when we are. We strive to ensure this occurs within minutes or hours (not days, weeks, or months).
While the example above is a very simple example, it’s actually fairly typical of the types of small hurts that occur between husband and wife. Left unaddressed, these small hurts turn into much bigger problems down the road – kind of like throwing monkeys into the closet. If we keep ignoring these little hurts, it’s like throwing another monkey into the closet. If we ignore enough of these hurts, a pretty large gorilla is going to come out of that closet eventually! One of the best ways to safeguard against this is by asking for forgiveness and healing often to help keep our relationship the very best it can be.