Forgiving and Reconciling 
with your Husband

 by Chuck Snyder
 co-chaplain for the Seattle Mariners

 

Dear Chuck
I've been married for 22 years. We have had a difficult time being "soulmates" with each of us feeling isolated during stressful times. For about the last three years we have had one stressful situation after another to deal with in business and with our kids. My husband has had a lot of trouble handling it all and feels personally responsible for everything, especially our 20-year-old son's rebellion. Basically he feels like a failure at home and is overwhelmed daily with stress here while trying to do his best with major trauma at work. We really retreated from each other, felt sorry for ourselves and ignored each other emotionally. Two weeks ago he moved out and confessed he had found another woman who met his emotional needs.

I took refuge in my relationship with the Lord and He has miraculously taken my hand through this journey that has been a real test of faith for me. I have a great group of friends who have rallied around me and have prayed me through. My husband four days ago broke down and asked forgiveness, saying he would like to restore our relationship but just doesn't know if he'll ever be happy with me. He says we're just too different and this other woman has been fun, energetic and fills his emotional needs (although he has not been able to have sex with her, I praise God for that.).

My question is this: How do we even begin to get over this wound to our relationship? It is so painful for me to think of him with someone else that I have trouble controlling my thought life. I'm afraid I will become bitter and not be able to demonstrate overcoming love, especially if I'm afraid to bare my soul to him because he can't handle the stress. Already I'm finding myself hiding stuff about the kids that I know will send him packing. Do you have any suggestions?

Chuck's Response
I was sad reading the note about the struggles in your marriage and your husband leaving. I assume he is not a sold-out, born-again, true, dedicated disciple of Jesus Christ. If he were, I think he would have more of the Holy Spirit's power to do the right thing ... rather than what he feels. Whether he will be happy with you is beside the point. Whether he will make YOU happy should be his concern according to Ephesians 5 where God asks him to DIE to himself for you.

One of the most powerful things an individual can do is to unilaterally forgive someone who has harmed us. Not only is this required by God, it results in a magnificent peace of mind whether or not the other person ever asks us to forgive THEM. You forgive them because God asked you to, not because they deserve it. Not all of these scriptures will relate to every situation, but I think you will get the flavor of what God has in mind.

Forgiveness

Matthew 18:21
"Then Peter came to him and asked, Sir how often should I forgive a brother who sins against me? Seven times? "No", Jesus replied "seventy times seven".

As you probably know, the Jewish law in the Old Testament required that a person forgive an enemy three times ... but that was all. After three times you could whack them. In this verse from the New Testament, Jesus is saying to Peter that the minimum number of times to forgive someone is 490 times. I guess you could say this means that we can never forgive enough.

Matthew 6:14-15
"Your heavenly Father will forgive you if you forgive those who sin against you; but if you refuse to forgive them, he will not forgive you."

This has nothing to do with salvation. There is a meaning in the original language that gives the impression of untying knots. So to me this means that if you will untie someone else's knots (ask their forgiveness), then God will untie YOUR knots (give you peace of mind).

Grace

The thing that helps me the most is to remember that God forgave me of my sins, so it really isn't that much to ask of us that we forgive others. Philip Yancey has written a wonderful book called What's So Amazing About Grace? It has a powerful discussion about God's grace and forgiveness. Forgiveness is something we have to DECIDE to do. We can look back and think of the past and get all upset again, or we can choose to let God have the past, and begin focusing ONLY on today and the future. Why don't you pray to the Lord something like this ...

"Dear Jesus, first of all thank You for dying to pay the penalty for my sins. Thank You for Your gift of forgiveness. I'm suffering right now terribly because my thoughts are about what my husband has done to me. Would You help me forgive him? I want to, but I'm not sure exactly how. I want to put those memories away and get on with my life. I know You are all powerful and can help me. Please cleanse my thoughts and point me toward my future. I love You for helping me. Amen"

Then, if these thoughts ever pop into your head again ... tell Satan, "Buzz off, you old serpent!" because of the power that Jesus Christ gives you, and try to immediately focus on something else. It's a process, but I know Jesus is very concerned about you and will be faithful to answer your prayer. Forgiveness does not make everything better and back to square one. It's just something that God asks us to do so that we can put the matter behind us.

I would take a hiatus on sharing any problems with him for a while. NOT because he might run away, but to give God some time to get his attention. I'm glad you're standing for the marriage. I know God will bless you for sticking around.

Chuck Snyder
 

 

1

View a complete list of books

 

 

Contact Chuck: chuck@chucksnyder.org
Updated 05/24/2005