Hopefully you have been following this series and you have seen some great ways to handle conflict. In a marriage conflict is inevitable. If you have been married more than a week you have no doubt run into conflict. Truly no matter how much you love someone being in relationship and living with them is always much harder than it seems. Be encouraged, while conflict is bound to happen, having good tools to work through it is the key to making life together much better. The more you use and practice these techniques the better you will be at resolving conflict quickly and with as little damage as possible.
In this final post of this series we will look at what can be perhaps the hardest part of handling conflict successfully as well as something that if you don’t do will likely cause the eventual breakdown of the relationship altogether. Forgiveness is the biggest gift you can give to both yourself and to your spouse. However, it can also be the hardest technique to employ in handling conflict. Especially if you feel that your spouse has intentionally harmed you. Wounds inflicted in marriage by someone who is supposed to love your more than anyone else are the deepest. They take the longest to heal and they are often times the hardest to forgive. I have found that the hurts caused by my husband, my children, my parents are wounds that have to be intentionally worked through. I find that many of the people I have worked with also have the same experiences.
What is forgiveness? Many people think that forgiveness means no longer holding someone responsible for their actions. Many people think that it is a feeling and can only be true forgiveness if you can enjoy a happy relationship with the very person who hurt you. While these can be parts of forgiveness, I find that it rarely starts there. First of all, forgiveness is not about a feeling it is about a choice. We CHOOSE to forgive. It is a conscious decision we make. It is an act of our will. Secondly, when we choose to forgive it doesn’t necessarily mean the person we forgive is absolved of their part in the hurt. It does me that we choose to release ourselves from the hurt that continuing to hold the injustice or perceived wrong is causing in our hearts. Forgiveness is something that we often times have to do choose to do more than once as the pain of the wound resurfaces. No doubt you have heard the saying, “unforgiveness is like me drinking Draino and expecting the other person to die.” Unfortunately, that is the very effect that unforgiveness has in our lives. It is the contamination of our very hearts. When we choose to nurse and rehearse the wrong done to us, the wound will continue to grow. However, when we begin to release ourselves from the hurt by bringing it to God and allowing Him to heal us we find that healing begins. Jesus is the ultimate example of forgiveness. He chose to forgive us and then he chose to love us and allow us to be who we were and accept us. We have the same opportunity to apply the Christ kind of forgiveness. One of the ways that is very helpful when finding a place of forgiveness is to take time to consider all other possibilities for what caused the hurt. Did your spouse really mean what was said the way your heard it? What is the intent of your spouse’s heart? Were there other factors that could have caused this response from your spouse such as fatigue, feelings of failure, your own criticism of them, words you had spoken that might have been better left unsaid? When you look at an area of conflict from a calm perspective you are often able to see things that may have escalated the situation to a hurtful place. When you look at it from these perspectives it is often easier to walk in forgiveness.
I want to encourage you today. Begin to let go of unforgiveness in your marriage and relationships. Begin to ask God to heal your heart and to allow you to see the other person as He sees them. Release yourself from the pain that your have been carrying. You will find that it is the best gift you will ever give yourself.