Reversing Unforgiveness

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By Dr. Wyatt Fisher

“Have you forgiven him?” How many times have you been asked this by well intending friends when discussing a recent fight with your spouse? For most of us, we hear this often and while forgiveness should certainly be our ultimate goal in response to hurts and offenses in marriage, it’s often easier said than done.  To be sure, forgiveness is central to our faith with Christ being the ultimate model of forgiveness of our sins. But, how do we transfer that same model of forgiveness over to our spouse day in and day out? Moreover, there’s great danger if we don’t implement forgiveness regularly within our marriage because unresolved hurt can quickly turn into bitterness and division.

reversing unforgiveness

Here are five steps to help cultivate more forgiveness in your marriage.

First, think about all the things in your spouse’s upbringing that may have influenced them to behave in the way that hurt you. For example, say your spouse has hurt your feelings because they don’t seem to really care when you speak about your experiences from the day.  However, when you think about their upbringing you remember how their parents never paid them much attention so attentive listening was never modeled for them.

Second, look at the current circumstances that may have influenced their hurtful behavior. For example, maybe they have been under considerable stress from work lately and it’s made them more emotionally exhausted than usual, which has made it harder for them to listen attentively to you.

Third, look at your possible contribution to their hurtful behavior. For example, maybe you have had a tendency to be too long-winded when discussing events from your day lately, which has made it more difficult for your spouse to respond sensitively.

Fourth, look at your own upbringing to see if their hurtful behavior is triggering anything from your past. For example, perhaps growing up you never felt like your father gave you his undivided attention and now each time your husband resembles the same behavior it activates the pain from your childhood.

Fifth, take inventory of all your imperfections and areas where your shortcomings get the best of you in your marriage. All too often, we become hyper-focused on the areas our spouse is hurting us but ignore the areas we may be hurting them as well. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye” (Mathew 7:3, NIV)?

The more you walk through these five steps each time your spouse hurts you, the more compassion and empathy will build in your heart, paving the way for reconciliation, forgiveness, and healing.

To see the full extended article as origianally published on click here: Unforgiveness

Guest Post by Dr. Wyatt Fisher

Dr. Wyatt Fisher

Dr. Wyatt Fisher

Dr. Wyatt Fisher is a psychologist in Colorado and provides marriage retreats across the US.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

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