Forgiveness is a daily choice
Our own story shows how vital forgiveness is in the crisis moments of our relationships.
Steve When Claire walked away from our marriage with another man, I made the choice early on to fight for her. But that meant each day I had to come face to face with the pain their actions had caused, so had to forgive over and over again. I also had to acknowledge my own part in getting our marriage to a place where Claire felt she had no choice but to run from it, and daily forgive myself for that.
Claire Having got to a point where I felt there was no future for our marriage, I then faced the rejection of the man I’d pinned my hopes on, as he left me within a few short weeks. Consumed by pain and utterly alone, I had to decide whether to face up to what had happened, my part in it and where I – and we – went from there. I had to confront the fact that I was capable of such behaviour. I needed to learn to forgive everyone involved – including myself.
Steve and Claire We knew that, if we were to work towards reconciliation, we had to able to forgive ourselves and each other. We both had to step out and take a risk – choosing to continue to love someone who caused so much pain again seems crazy. However, we learned that love can be rekindled, and that forgiveness is a huge part of that process. All this happened a decade into our relationship, and we have now been married for almost 30 years. We are totally committed to one another not just on our best days together, but even through the struggles and conflict – which inevitably come.
Forgiveness is a vital component in marriage whether we are facing a crisis or simply living our lives day by day. The lessons we learned then still help us today. If we want our relationship to work we need to understand that forgiveness is more about the state of our own hearts. By harbouring an offense until we think the other person is repentant enough, or has suffered enough for what they did, we create an extra barrier between us. Forgiveness is actually not about letting the other person off the hook, but releasing ourselves from bitterness and resentment.
We will all experience both big and small grievances within our marriages. Some do need to be addressed – but with grace and love. But often, those little niggles are actually about personal preferences. We can build them up in our minds until they become a big issue – but we need to ask ourselves: do we really want that one annoying habit to be the thing that kills our relationship? We are both imperfect humans, and so much can be restored with grace, love and forgiveness.