3 Reasons Radical Forgiveness is a Must in Marriage

By June 14, 2017February 20th, 2018Communication, Conflict

It has been said that marriage is the combination of two very good forgivers. We have found this to be true in our own marriage–many times over! And we’ve observed countless successful relationships that were made up of good forgivers, as well.

When you’re in such a close relationship with another human being, it’s inevitable that you’re going to step on each other’s toes. That’s just part of life. The trick is being able to offer forgiveness to one another in a genuine, meaningful way, so that when those times come, you’ll be ready to face them head-on.

But What is Forgiveness, Really?

First, it’s critical to understand what forgiveness is. Forgiveness is surrendering the right to retaliate against someone who has hurt you. It is not the relinquishing of your boundaries and dignity, and it is not a cheap or easy thing to extend.

When you extend forgiveness to your spouse, know what you’re forgiving. Be honest about how the hurt has been detrimental to your spirit. In the process of forgiveness, don’t just forgive and forget; forgive, but extend some pointers to your spouse about how they can better handle your heart with care in the future.

Forgiveness in marriage is a must because:

1. The act of forgiveness strengthens our love.

Forgiveness is a form of love in action, and we can’t get far in marriage without it. When you love someone, you’re vulnerable with them, and vice versa. Your spouse has the power to hurt you more deeply than anyone else in the world because you value their approval and affirmation more than anyone else’s. Your spouse is also just as vulnerable to being hurt by you as you are to being hurt by them.

When we forgive one another, we extend sacrificial love. When we are forgiven, we are humbled and determined to love our spouses better going forward. This cycle challenges us to love one another more fully, completely, and selflessly. And over the years, as we continue to practice this dance of forgiveness, our bond grows deeper and stronger.

2. Forgiveness sets us free.

Forgiveness frees us in two ways: first, it releases the offender; second, it releases the one who was hurt.

Forgiveness benefits the forgiver as much as, if not more than, the person who is being forgiven. It sets us free from being dragged down by unforgiveness, which eventually turns into resentment. And when you hold onto resentment, it does no good for anyone–especially you.

There are going to be times when we need to offer forgiveness to our spouse, whether they’ve asked for it or not. When you do this, remember that you’re freeing yourself from a prison of resentment, and graciously offer forgiveness to your spouse.

3. Lessons we learn from forgiving our spouse can extend beyond the marriage.

Forgiving anyone can be difficult–whether it’s a friend, family member, or co-worker. But when the person you love most in the world has hurt you, the process of forgiving him or her can be incredibly difficult and painful. Once you’ve practiced forgiveness in your marriage for a time, you may find it easier to extend forgiveness to those outside your relationship.

Forgiving one another as husband and wife can also help you to teach your children how to forgive. Modeling healthy forgiveness and allowing them to see their parents live this out will give them the tools they need to practice forgiveness in their own relationships as they grow older.

Putting it Into Practice

Being able to forgive one another teaches us to love each other and those around us in a more godly way, and it helps us to become more sensitive to the effects of our actions on others. In short, it makes us better husbands, wives, parents, friends, co-workers, and people.

It’s important to note, once again, that forgiveness is a process. You can intend to forgive, but you can’t control the steps to forgiveness, or how long it takes to get there. If the hurt you want to forgive is particularly grievous, it can take a very long time to complete the process. Whatever it takes, set yourself on a path of forgiveness and trust God to meet you on that path. And give yourself grace and time as you walk it.

Do you and your spouse practice radical forgiveness in your marriage? How has it affected or transformed your relationship? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section!


  • Maria Rivera says:

    forgiveness has helped us to get further then we thought we would ever be. after over 10 years of separation we reconciled about 1 1/2 ago, we are growing together and have forgiven each other for past hurt and continue to forgive each other for things that still take place. the difference is that this time around we ask for forgiveness instead of expectations of forgiveness without recognizing that we should missed up.

  • Cele Gaytan says:

    I feel that I’ve been able to forgive much faster than my husband. He, on the other hand, has a hard time. The most recent thing to come up was I lied about having a membership at a gym. He found out and was really hurt. I should’ve never lied and see what I did wrong. I told him the reason I lied was due to his past reactions. That’s why I lied about it. This has been about 6 months ago and still, through counseling, he’s still holding a grudge against me and not moving forward. I’ve repented and asked for forgiveness and nothing’s changed. Thank you for this article. Forgiveness is very hard to do but I’m glad we have a grace from a loving Father.

  • Teron J. McFadden says:

    Thank you for this. Forgiveness can be a constant struggle for those who have been hurt before and have gone through trauma! This has helped me have a better understanding but also note that those that have experienced past hurts and trauma really need to deal with it so that they are able to truly forgive and be able to move forward and have a healthy relationship.

  • Not Sure says:

    We have had many opportunities to practice forgiveness. We do pretty well with each other, even in very difficult hurts.

    I NEED HELP AND ADVICE on forgiving her mother. I have had a close relationship with her mom because I have always believed her to be a supportive, loving, christian, helpful and generous moth-in-law. But I have always comsidered her to be very blunt and even rude. I blamed her ethnicity, being Korean. This time she has hurt me by treating my wife not as equally as her other daughters. When she should be happy for us because of our home purchase, all she has done is accuse us and doubt us, and tell her how foolish “she” was to buy this house. When recently her sister bought a similar house mom was very supportive. Saying how proud and how nice her home was. We wanted and expected and needed her approval, because we love her. I am hurt as well. She has only repeated her complaints about every aspect of the house, and how I will never be able to manage the house. I have been married to her daughter for many years successfully and always had a good relationship with mom.
    When she said something while visiting the new house, I said “no mom we cannot do that”(details not important) but she yelled at me at the top of her lungs about her pent up resentment for my controlling ways,(for forcing her to buy a house her mom didnt approve of)

    I am guilty of yelling back that she should be quiet and treat my wife equally as well as her other daughters. Mom, hasn’t spoken to me since.

    I want her to apologize for being angry at us, not supporting us, and apologize for interfering in our marriage. I do want to apologize for not respecting her position as my moth in law. But I cannot imply I accept her treating her daughter, and I this way. I just dont know how to do this without increasing tenaion between us and most importantly with my wife.

    • Heather Young says:

      Dear Not Sure
      Blessings to you for your transparency & concern!
      Although having approval can feel rewarding we must have enough confidence in our own decisions to avoid satisfaction contingent upon that approval. It’s understandable that you wanted mother-in-law’s approval, but “expecting and needing” approval is the first red flag. Offer your sincere apology without stipulation and ask Holy Spirit for wisdom and to speak through you when you reach out to her with an extra dose of kindness along with the remaining fruits of the Spirit. Pray for discernment on timing and strategy to address the issue of desiring support, peace, and reconciliation. Through God’s grace continue to intentionally view her as a “supportive, loving, christian, helpful and generous mother-in-law” despite what she has shown and secretly declare only positive promises of God over her when painful instant replays arise. While it’s fine to acknowledge the desire for an apology You must also release the expectation or else you set yourself up for disappointment and more hurt all over again. Accept her where she is without condoning the behavior. It’s so wonderful that your wife has your support in the desire to see her treated fairly. May unity and restoration be your portion!💛

  • THANK YOU PARROTTS!!! Like you, we are often on the front lines of helping people heal hurts, marriages, families and walk through their own valleys of death. We see unforgiving hearts daily who are riddled with pain and bitterness. We urge forgiveness for myriad reasons not the least of which is to set those holding the grudge, FREE! Thank you for blogging about this. People listen to those who are “famous”. We’re/I’m “infamous” and well, thank you for posting this. More relationships with self and others would be recipients of grace and strength if more people comprehended the beauty and mercy of forgiveness.

    Blessings from two of your best fans and SYMBIS helpers!

  • C. I. S. says:

    I wish I would have been more purposeful about forgiveness starting from when I first started dating my (now) husband. I struggle with anxiety, and at first when he would do something that hurt me I would become anxious, which was very difficult to deal with. My husband is a wonderful, Godly, caring man, but he did not always love me the way I wanted to be loved. After a few months, I began to use a defense. Instead of being sad and anxious when he did something wrong, I would become angry (this, to me, was far easier than dealing with anxiety). Eventually, when he did not change in the way I wanted him to, I would “store,” the anger in my heart, which I now realize is the root of resentment and bitterness toward him. After we got married I realized the depth of my resentment. I struggle to see him the same as I once did. It’s sad because I believe my bitterness really affects our relationship, but I’m unsure of how to make the resentment go away. I’ve prayed, but still feel lost.

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