When Your Spouse Hurts You: How to Forgive and Forget

Written by Dr. Dave Currie

sexlove_spouseforgiveForgive and forget. It’s a well-worn cliché – one that is easier to say than to practice.

If you’re married, you’ve been there. Your spouse has said or done something that has wounded you. It may be something small, or it may be a major betrayal. Either way, your pride screams at you to take revenge. If you don’t strike back immediately, you at least want to keep this “guilt card” in your pocket, to be pulled out at a later date: “Oh yeah, well what about the time when you….”

When we’ve been offended, the last thing we want to do is to let it go. And yet, if our desire is to have a healthy, lasting marriage, that is exactly what we’ve got to do. Here are seven suggestions to keep in mind when your spouse lets you down:

  1. Don’t start without your spouse
    If you need to talk to your spouse about something, don’t just corner them and launch in unexpectedly. That is a recipe for hostility. Instead, agree together on a time to discuss the issue. That gives each of you a chance to think about it in advance, which will result in a more productive discussion than if one partner simply lambastes the unsuspecting “offender”.
  2. Handle negative emotions responsibly
    When we react emotionally, we often say and do things that we later regret. In many cases, it is best to delay the discussion until you’ve settled down, gained a proper perspective, and prayed about your attitude. This will allow you to go into it looking for a solution, rather than just being consumed with your own hurt.As partners, you need to respect each other’s need to “take five”. If your spouse needs to wait a few minutes, or even a day or two, to cool down, don’t press the issue. This should not be used as an excuse to avoid the discussion entirely, but it is better to take some time to clear your head than to allow your emotions to take you somewhere that you don’t want to go.
  3. Deal with one issue at a time
    Remember that “guilt card” we mentioned earlier? Once you’re into the discussion, you will be tempted to pull it out. Soon, your conversation has deteriorated into a long list of offenses, as you try to outdo one another with everything that the other person has ever done wrong.  This only intensifies the conflict and deepens the divide between you. It can also be overwhelming to be presented with a massive list of things that need to change. Instead of being motivating, it’s discouraging.Instead, be content to solve one problem at a time. It is much better to make serious headway in one area of your relationship than to simply rehearse everything that needs fixing.
  4. Be clear about your perspective
    Give each other some uninterrupted time to share your concerns. If you are just trading barbs back and forth, neither of you will really be hearing the other – you’ll be too busy thinking about your next comeback.When it is your time to talk, try to help your mate understand your hurt or frustration. Help them to see why their actions and words had the impact that they did. Likewise, the offending spouse should have the opportunity to explain their words or behaviour. It could be that you have misinterpreted their motives, and when this is cleared up it goes along way towards solving the problem.
  5. Hold your relationship more dear than this issue
    Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our feelings or our “rights” that we lose sight of the bigger picture. People joke about marriages breaking up over toothpaste and toilet paper disputes, but it really happens! Remember that your relationship is the primary concern. You may have some issues to sort out, but you still love one another – and loving one another often means letting the other person be right.
  6. Walk in an attitude of forgiveness
    If you are going to live with this person for the next 20…30…50 years, you are going to have to forgive one another manytimes. You cannot afford to not forgive. Unforgiveness does not only hurt your spouse, it hurts you! As Corrie Ten Boom said, “Forgiveness is setting the prisoner free, only to find out that the prisoner was me.”This brings us back to the issue of forgiving and forgetting. In truth, there are some hurts that you will never be able to forget. What is more important is that we choose to let it go. Proverbs 17:9 says, “He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” Forgiveness entails giving up your right to punish your spouse – whether through direct retaliation or just letting bitterness fester.Over the past year, I have discovered the value of “advance forgiveness”. I make a conscious decision that, the next time my wife Donalyn offends me, I am going to forgive her. Then, when it happens, I remember that I have already decided to forgive her, so there is no point in making a big deal out of it now. This really helps to take my critical edge off.
  7. Forgive as Christ forgave you - Colossians 3:13 says, “Bear with each another and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”And just how does the Lord forgive us? Fully. Unconditionally. Willingly. Time and time again.This kind of forgiveness is supernatural; it is more than we can do on our own. Particularly if your spouse has betrayed you in a major way, you may need to ask God for the ability to let go of the hurt and forgive them from your heart. But as you trust God to give you His strength and love, He will help you to forgive…even when your spouse has really let you down.

If you have never experienced God’s complete, unconditional forgiveness, know this: God loves you deeply. There is no sin that is so great that He is unwilling to forgive you, if you would just come to Him. If this is the desire of your heart, pray this prayer:

Dear God, I need You in my marriage, and in my life. I acknowledge that I have sinned against You by directing my own life, and that I cannot go on any further without Your help and guidance – and above all, Your forgiveness. I thank You for sending Your Son Jesus to die on the cross to pay for my sins. I now accept that sacrifice and invite Jesus to take His place on the throne of my life. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and empower me to live the life You have called me to. Thank You for forgiving me. Amen.

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208 Responses to “When Your Spouse Hurts You: How to Forgive and Forget”

  • Chris Chris says:

    Andrea…my prayer is that jesus peace will reign in your home, in the fathers heart and everyone who steps into into your home according to Matthew 10.13. blessings to you!

  • Andrea says:

    Thank you Doris for writing me back. I have tears in my eyes feeling your support. Yes, indeed the trainer situation will not be repeated and I will not replace it with someone else. I took a month off visiting my old father with my daughter. And meanwhile I have expressed my hurts to my husband. I did not tell him about the trashy affair. But I told him that his ignorance & meanness towards me after all these yrs is putting my strength to test. That I am scarred to fail this time., that I need his help. We did counseling for 2 yrs following my daughter birth. That helped to stop his drinking & control the domestic abuse. It was very private by doctor MD. He is retired now & moved. Today he is more healthy & easier to talk too. I am not scared of him anymore.

    I believe in forgiveness and that a child should be raised by a mom & dad. I want my home to be loving nurturing environment for every body. I am bit scared of going to counseling because as soon you speak abuse even though the hitting stopped many many yrs ago, there is always a risk they report it. And than you create new problems within a broken system. I down to our last issues, verbal abuse. If that stops than voala, I have accomplished fixing a good father for my girl.

    I will look into your mentor ship suggestion. Thank you :)

  • Chris Chris says:

    pretty….one thing to remember, jesus fogave those who crucified him on the cross although they showed no remorse. we will experience those times as well. of course, we are shocked when its our own mate but remember too we are in a spiritual marriage covenent with christ. how many times do we sin against him without truly confessing our heart-felt remorse and guilt before him. yes you do have a right to a divorce but you seem to not consider that because you want to show your husband mercy as you yourself have been shown. blessed are the merciful, they shall receive mercy. jesus bless you!

  • Pretty says:

    My husband cheated on me four years ago with one of his student. After I found out I confronted him and he denied it making up some stories. Only when I threatened (packed my bags and told him I was leaving) to leave him that he confessed that indeed he cheated but refused to talk about it. I struggle to forgive him because whenever I asked him about this affair hoping to find closure he doesn’t want to talk about it, I guess he is afraid that he might actually say something that might contradict the lies he had told me. Some times the hurt fades and everything goes back to normal and I think I have forgiven him, but when it does come back it hurt so much, I feel betrayed. What hurt me most is that I trusted him so much and the fact that he rather have me suffer than confess the whole truth and help me get over this hurt. I love him so much and I have prayed to God to help me forgive him but the hurt just goes away for a while and return. I just wish he could help me get over this. I have talked to him over and over without success.

  • Neal Neal says:

    Hi Sara,

    Let me start off by saying that you are showing that you are a strong woman by not seeking to avenge his behavior by acting in kind and that it’s okay to feel hurt.

    The fact that you have some past trauma exacerbates the feelings you have now. You don’t say whether you have sought professional counseling for your past experiences but this may be a good idea and bringing your husband to the sessions is also a good idea.

    If he doesn’t feel that he wants to accompany you perhaps you can start on your own and bring him in at a later date. The key is to help you to deal with your past and with your present.

    And don’t worry about making this trek alone, we have an excellent team of volunteer mentors who would love to be by your side to offer you support, encouragement and spiritual guidance at http://powertochange.com/experience/talk-to-a-mentor/.

    Sara, I would like to pray for you at this time: Heavenly Father, I come to you on behalf of my friend Sara who has endured a lot of trauma in her life and is reaching out for guidance. Father, lift her up, bring her peace in her marriage, and end Sara’s pain..in Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

  • Sara says:

    I am so hurt because my husband blows up over little things and when we argue about them he just stops talking to me. He frequently just leaves the house and doesn’t come back for days at a time. He doesn’t reply to e-mails and texts and doesn’t pick up calls. He comes back and acts like nothing happened.

    I have abandonment issues due to a childhood trauma and I have been trying to work through them for years but his actions terrify me and just keep bringing me down. I have explained this to him many times and he even promised to not do it anymore… I’m writing this because he has left yet again.

    I have so much angry and hatred at him for treating me like this. I feel like I need to give him the cold shoulder but I’m not that kind of person because I never want to make someone feel how he makes me feel. I don’t want to stoop to his level. I don’t know what to do. I have this horrible hatred of him but at the same time I feel so attached to him, I feel so hurt when he leaves. What do I do?

  • Doris Beck Doris Beck says:

    Andrea,
    My heart goes out to you today and to be honest, I hardly know how to respond. You have experienced so much hurt and you know that your behavior with the trainer wasn’t the right way to deal with it. There are some deep issues that you and your husband need to deal with. Do you have a pastor that you can talk to? Or is he willing to go to a professional counselor together? If he isn’t willing to go with you, perhaps you could start by yourself and see if you can deal with the root of your anger and hurt.

    We have a team of online mentors that are volunteers that would love to walk alongside of you on your journey. Just fill in the form on this page, http://powertochange.com/experience/talk-to-a-mentor/ and someone will email you back.

    In the meantime, let me pray for you.
    Dear Heavenly Father,
    I lift Andrea up to you right now. She has experienced a lot of hurt in her marriage Lord, and now is reaching out. Lord, help her to take her hurts to You and to allow You to show her how to forgive her husband. Only You can change hearts Lord….Amen.

  • Andrea says:

    I am married of ten years with an 8yr old daughter. My husband is not romantic, I fell in love bz I believed he will not betray me with other women, as for sex I am always intimating (but it’s not good) even in the start of our relationship it took months before anything happened. So now what once felt safe is a major problem. It makes me angry. Beside I have difficulties forgiving. He used to drink for yrs in the evenings, any demands from me, would get us fighting, me answering back, would get him to even slap. Now it sounds awful, I know I couldn’t leave bz I believed it could get better so few dramas family court counseling moving … He stopped being violent 5 yrs ago. I should be over it right ?? But no, I want more things to be fixed. Now we are down to put downs, shouting. Everytime he belittles me I explode. Last year I hold so much hate & frustration that I simply for few months daily slept with a trainer. I stopped seeing him as I know I only used him to sooth my wounds. I would not brake this family, I have a child. Help me to deal w issues in a more mature way ? Leaving is not a solution bz when I was pregnant, I had tasted his harsh side, but I was tired to start over & wanted to have a child so badly that I stayed. Now I will tell my self the worst is over, how can I erase bad memories Everytime I get disappointed or when weeks go by without any type of touching or simply bring acknowledged ?

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