I love to dance. I have been a dancer for 19 years now. I have taken thousands of hours of classes trying to perfect this craft. One thing I learned very early on is that in dance you need to have the correct technique if you are going to execute certain steps correctly and safely.
Technique is the basis of all fundamentals of dance, from holding your body correctly while performing to executing skills properly in a routine. Strong technique extends across all areas of dance, regardless of the style of your routine.
The technique is so important in dance because it keeps you balanced to perform the movement in a correct way. It keeps you from injury and aids in making the movement smooth and beautiful. Can you dance without technique? Sure, people do it all the time but you can always spot the dancers that have had technique training from the ones that haven’t.
Marriage is like a dance. It is two people coming together with a common love and goal. When both people are moving to the same beat and are in step with each other the dance is smooth and enjoyable. But when one or both people start dancing offbeat and some toes get stepped on the dance becomes jerky and robotic. If these missteps aren’t corrected by proper technique the dance can be hindered or even worse injury can occur.
One technique we have to learn if our marriages are going to be successful is forgiveness. Forgiveness is something that we have to be willing to use on a daily basis in marriage.
In every marriage, missteps happen which leads to toes getting stepped on. It may start innocently enough but if forgiveness is not extended and received the little things can become big things very quickly. We are two imperfect people living in small spaces. The trick is to use the technique of forgiveness quickly and often to avoid the little things from becoming big things. So let’s break down some practical steps that can be taken to extend forgiveness in our marriages.
The Little Things
Like I said early in every marriage little things happen that require forgiveness. These are the words that get spoken in angry or the things that get forgotten and cause hurt feelings. These are the things that seem harmless and small but if we do not address them they start to add up over time. Sometimes these are intentional things and other times we do not even realize feelings have been hurt. So what are some ways we can make forgiveness a part of our everyday lives?
I remember the first time I hurt Alex’s feelings. The thing is that was not my goal at all. I thought I was offering advice and he saw it as me criticizing him. The fact that it was unintentional did not matter. Words had been spoken that hurt so forgiveness was necessary. Here’s the deal though, had he not communicated this to me I would have never known it happened. Again my intent was to help not hurt so if he had not spoken up I would not have known that anything was wrong.
Communication can be hard but it is necessary for a marriage. We have to be able to sit down with our spouses and be real. Once Alex told me how that made him feel I was able to not only apologize but to also tell him that was not my intent. If you have trouble with talking through things with your spouse I have a few little tricks for you!
What You Said vs What I Heard
I have mentioned this is another blog but it is so good I think it needs repeating. This one thing has helped Alex and me on so many different occasions. When words get said that hurt your feelings or if you are having an important conversation and you need to be on the same page this is what you do. You tell your spouse, “Ok, I just heard you say this- and you tell them what you heard.” This lets your spouse know what you heard them say and then they can confirm that it is correct or restate what they were trying to say. It’s amazing in marriage how a person can be saying something and the other person hear something totally different than what they were trying to say. By using this technique forgiveness can happen very quickly if it is needed and sometimes hurt feelings can be avoided altogether.
What Do I Know to be True
Anytime something is said or done in a marriage that is hurtful it is really easy to start thinking and saying absolutes. The words “never” and “always” are very dangerous when you are upset. One harsh word can turn into the statement of, “You always say hurtful things.” or ” You never say anything kind.” Once you start thinking and saying these absolute statements things can go from bad to worse pretty quickly. We can think ourselves into a huge problem if we are not careful. The Bible tells us what we should do with these harmful thoughts.
2 Corinthians 10:5 says this-
And we tear down every proud idea that raises itself against the knowledge of God. We also capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ.
I put this verse into practice by saying things that I know are true. Anytime I have gotten my feelings hurt I change my thinking by saying truth statements about Alex.
Alex cares for me and has my best interest at heart
Alex does the same thing but in a different way. He takes 1 Corinthians where it is talking about love and he puts my name in the place of love.
Tara is patient and Tara is kind
These are just small ways that we choose to think positive about each other. Once we put these practices into place forgiveness is easier to both give and receive.
Choose Your Battles- Is it Worth the Wasted time?
This should go without saying but I’m going to say it anyway. There are times that we should pick our battles and let it go! I hate being mad at Alex and honestly some things are not worth the wasted time. We need to know when something needs to be talked through and forgiveness needs to be given/received or when to just chalk it up to they are having a bad day and cut them some slack. No one is perfect. We all need some grace from time to time.
The Big Things
Now let’s talk about some of the big things that happen in marriages. People make big mistakes. Some are easier to forgive than others. Some of you who are reading this have been hurt very badly by your spouse now or a previous spouse. Please know that I am not down paying whatever happened to you. I am going to lovingly speak some hard truth to you. Even in the worst situations forgiveness is vital. Harboring unforgiveness will only affect you negatively if it is not dealt with. Our society tells us lies about forgiveness. Because of those lies, some people believe that they shouldn’t forgive and or worse yet that they can’t forgive. The Bible makes it very plain that we are to forgive others of their wrongs just like we have been forgiven.
Matthew 6:14-15 says~
Yes, if you forgive others for the wrongs they do to you, then your Father in heaven will also forgive your wrongs. But if you don’t forgive others, then your Father in heaven will not forgive the wrongs you do
This verse is very blunt and we need to take it very seriously. If we do not forgive we will not be forgiven. So how do we forgive people who have hurt us deeply and who may or may not be repentant?
Forgiveness can be very hard. If a problem has happened between you and your spouse and you are struggling with forgiveness but you want that reconciliation in your marriage I highly recommend getting outside help. Find a Christian counselor or pastor to help with this. There is no shame in getting help. Getting this help may be the difference in your marriage succeeding and it failing. If reconciliation is possible pursue it with everything you have. Marriage is sacred, do everything in your power to restore it.
Small Groups and Church Family
Find small groups that focus on hurts and forgiveness. I know at our church we have groups that focus on these topics and they have really helped people process their pain and start the process of forgiveness. Having people that have walked through some of the same trials is so helpful because we get to see that healing and forgiveness are possible. You never know what other couples have gone through just by glancing at them. Make friends with other couples. Learn their stories and what all they have overcome. I have been so shocked to hear some of the horrible things that couples I look up to have been through. They seem so strong now I would have never guessed the work they had to do to get to that place. By going to church and befriending other couples you have people that can help you, pray for you, and share their wisdom with you.
Pray and Spend Time with the Father
The Lord is not going to ask us to do anything that He will not help us do. He told us to forgive and He will be there to give us the strength and grace to do what he has asked us to do. Seek Him and be real with Him. Let Him know that you are hurting and that you want to forgive but that it is hard. He is big enough and cares about you enough to handle your deepest and darkest hurts. He is also powerful enough to heal us of them if we will let Him.
Pray for Your Spouse
It is not easy to pray for the person that hurt you whether it be big or small. But something happens in us when we make the decision to pray for them. One it brings God into the equation. It allows Him in so He can do what needs to be done. Secondly, it shifts our focus to the forgiveness and grace that has been so lavishly given to us. The Lord does something pretty cool in us when we pray for those who hurt us. He heals us. Maybe you can only muster a small prayer at first but God honors small things in big ways. Take this one day at a time and see what the Lord can do when you obey Him and ask Him to help you.
Forgiveness is a process. It is not a decision that you will make once and be done with it. You may have to forgive your spouse every hour or every day, to begin with, but eventually, your feelings and your words will line up with the decision you have made. Marriage is worth the work. Forgiveness is worth the work. Your spouse is worth the work. You are worth the work.
You can do this. We are praying for you.