The truth is none of us is perfect. We all sin and fall short. My dear husband made sure early on in our relationship that I knew all of what he considered his short-comings, so I would "know what I was getting into." The truth is, if I didn't stay with my husband through his mistakes, I would end up alone or with another imperfect person.
This is where forgiveness comes into play. While I was thinking of how I could approach the topic of forgiveness in marriage, I realized that it is somewhat of an obscure philosophy in this generation. We are so used to getting something new when what we have doesn't please us anymore (instant gratification) that the practice has even rolled over into our marriages. When I was a teenager, my pastor would tell me that love is not an emotion; infatuation is an emotion; lust is an emotion; happiness and excitement are emotions. Love is a commitment. You don't stay with your spouse because he makes you feel all giddy inside 24 hours a day (sorry, honey!). You stay with him because you love him and committed to stay with him "through rich or poor, sickness and health, good times and bad." The only way to possibly do that is to learn to forgive his mistakes.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you have a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13Think about that. How did the Lord forgive you? Completely. Selflessly. Without thinking of the wrong we had done him, he laid down his life to cover those sins. He replaced our filthiness with his righteousness and he stands before the judgement seat to defend us. How can we possibly every forgive anyone that way? We can start by giving them grace. Allow him to be human and make mistakes without holding it against him for the rest of your lives. Defend his honor. Don't go tell everyone every mistake your husband makes. Pick up where he fails. Come along beside him to help him break those unhealthy patterns instead of being bitter and closing yourself off from him. Give him a clean slate each day. That is how we would forgive our husbands as the Lord forgave us.
This is easier to say than to do, I realize! Selfishness, pride, bitterness, and just plain pain get in the way. I find myself blessed to be married to a man that I can share these feelings with so that he is able to help me forgive him. Not everyone has such open communication with their spouse. But don't forget where emotion and reality cross. Don't mistake unhappiness for a loss of love. Don't drop a commitment to your marriage in exchange for some unrealistic idea that you could be happier elsewhere. The only way to make a marriage work is to forgive and keep on working at it! No healthy marriage worth having doesn't come at a high price of hard work and selfless living. Let's make that commitment together today to love and forgive in our marriages!
(Note: Please understand that I believe there are certain situations where forgiveness and self-preservation are two different things. I do not believe a woman who is being abused or treated unfaithfully needs to stay in that unhealthy situation. If this is your case, this post is not for you and you should seek out help and christian counsel!)