Remember the line from the movie “Love Story” that “Love means never having to say you’re sorry?” What a crock! John Lennon of the Beatles makes more sense when he explained that “Love means having to say you’re sorry every five minutes.” Reconciliation and forgiveness are necessary ingredients for any committed couple’s success. Dr.Terry Hargrave, an internationally recognized expert on forgiveness, says that “Any act of forgiveness should also be accompanied by a change in the victimizer towards trustworthy behavior.” This means, essentially, that when you have wronged your mate you MUST convey that you are sorry!
This is only half of the story, though. The other half of the story is the ability to forgive. Even if your spouse has demonstrated remorse and shown trustworthy behavior, you still have to let go of the need for justice or revenge. Timothy Keller, in his sermons and writings on marriage, says that an essential part of marriage is the ability to forgive without residual anger. This means letting go of everything on your part that keeps the marriage from being as good as it could be. The phrase in Jesus’ teaching to “turn the other cheek” doesn’t mean that you must remain vulnerable to being hurt again, but that you will remain open to reconciliation.
Below is a testimonial of how forgiveness was the turning point for a couple I worked with. When I got this email from “Missy” (real names changed for confidentiality), it had been a few months since I had seen them. For this couple, the husband had already done some long and hard work at building trust and showing both awareness and remorse for his hurtful behavior. What was not happening was the wife’s ability to let go and let herself be vulnerable again. I was encouraged by her testimonial about the healing power of forgiveness, and I hope you will be as well.
Just wanted to update you on how Tom and I are doing. First of all….I have always believed in God, and always believed God is capable of miracles. However, I have to admit, I had pretty much given up that there would be a miracle big enough for Tom and I. A couple weeks before Christmas, I had prayed to God, as I have on and off through the past years, for Tom and I.
Shortly after, I was listening to K-Love Radio Station, as I often do. The first song that came on was a song about forgiveness. This was not the first time I had heard this song, I had heard it many times, but it was like I had revelation that I needed to forgive Tom for his shortcomings…….and I did.
I told him what had happened, and suggested we make a whole new start over the holidays, and celebrate our 25th Anniversary, which was in June, the way we normally would have. Now, remember Tom had [illness] at that time, and my heart was really not into forgiving at that time.
He was thrilled and more than willing to make a new start. We both got new wedding rings that match very nicely. On the 29th, we had our parents, our kids, and one couple we are close with, out to our house for Anniversary cake and hors d’oeuvres. We had a blast and truly, TRULY enjoyed the celebration together.
In addition, I had gone to Thing’s Remembered and gotten new 25th anniversary wine glasses, cake knife and server, unity candle, and cake topper. We got our rings the morning of the December 25th, when we all opened our gifts, and saved the rings for last. No one knew we had done this. By the way…..I had the idea….didn’t know what he would think of it, but had started looking at rings. Just happened to find THE ONE I fell in love with immediately…..when I mentioned it, during our whole conversation about what had happened with the forgiveness song and everything…he was all for it…..they ordered both rings right away.
It was the funniest thing….as backward as Tom is…..every time someone asked how our Christmas was, he held up his hand to show his ring, and said I got married! Of course that gave an opening for me to show my ring too. Christmas Evening, we went to a park that was all lit with Christmas Lights, stopped on one of the bridges and said our new vows to each other, walked through the park, stopping on each bridge for some affection.
We immediately were able to resume our physical relationship, and it has been wonderful for us both. I cannot explain how or why it happened the way it did, it just did, and I have to give all the credit to God. Knew you probably wondered once in a while where we were and how things were going…..and just wanted to give you the courtesy of letting you know. I so much appreciate your help, and do think it definitely helped us to see we owed each other more time.