It goes without saying that human beings are imperfect and as a result screw up…a lot. In marriages, this is no different. In fact, have you ever noticed that the realization that your spouse isn’t as perfect as you think becomes crystal clear during marriage?
When I first had the concept of forgiveness and the importance of it in marriage stressed to me, I had a mixed reaction. I knew that forgiveness was important in marriage, but wondered how often I should forgive. I mean at some point, isn’t enough, enough? To this my husband responded that I forgive not one time, but seventy-seven times. (At the time he said this, I wondered if he was prepping me for how often he might do things that I didn’t care for!!)
It’s hard nowadays though to value the idea of forgiveness in marriage, particularly because we live in a society that tells us to do just the opposite. Society tells us that we don’t deserve to be treated poorly in marriage (or in any relationship for that matter), and that if we are being treated poorly, we can choose to end it. In fact, not doing so is considered stupid! (Again, this goes back to the idea of that you deserve to be with someone who treats you right, and if you are not, then you should find someone else who treats you the way you deserve to be treated. Notice how commitment in marriage and this idea seem almost contradictory.)
But, the majority of relationships out there are not horrendous, simply because people who married each other are not out to intentionally hurt each other. Most issues in marriage can be resolved, if the couple just learned to forgive each other. (Forgive, without throwing it back in the other person’s face, that is!) This is definitely easier said than done, but it is essential if a marriage is to endure over the years.
This brings me back to my husband’s earlier comment about forgiving not once, but many times. My husband and I do the best that we can, but inevitably one or both of us fail. We don’t treat each other as we should, we do not listen to each other, we may yell at each other and we may say things in the heat of the moment that we later regret. As the years go by, and as we have kids, the list of mess ups and failures will inevitably grow. Hopefully at the same time, so to will our capacity to forgive each other.