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.