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.


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

  • Theresa says:

    Unforgiveness is a weapon that hurts the person who carries it. It seeps deep into their soul infesting their words, actions, and body language. The more quickly we can forgive the faster we will get to healing. The hurt may not go away right away, but it will get better. If you want to learn about my journey to forgiveness, you can read is here: http://wp.me/p4Xa3y-6l

  • James37 says:

    As a man who has been hurt in this kind of situation I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt how to get through this. first you have to own what happened with no excuses and no blaming. the next step is that you have to be willing to endure and fight for him. 2Chronicles 34 speaks on Josiah was king who purged his land got rid of everything that was against God. purge your lands and remove all that could be a stumbling block. Lastly fight for his heart and love him with no expectations. stay humble and hungry for God word and healing but no matter what he does fight for him. He is hurt and needs to heal.

  • Chris says:

    melody cullivan….so sorry to hear you are struggling…Jesus told us in Luke 7 that when people love and forgive little its because they dont realize how much God has forgiven them as well. when a hard heart manifests towards someone else, that person needs a revelation of just how much Gods mercy has been on display in their lives without them apparently knowing it. we cannot produce gratitude in a persons heart from Jesus death for them but we can on our own be the grateful and thankful person jesus wants us to be. to start your own personal and wonderful relationship with jesus, log onto knowingjesuspersonally.com or click talk to a mentor above. that way your husband will be able to see your new life in christ and hopefully want one as well. you can also show him how serious you are about change by eliminating your social network accounts and handing him over your electronic devices if need be. once you begin walking with jesus, you will want to share him with all you can and be able to use your time wisely to win others to jesus also. praying you will today!

  • Jon Koegle says:

    Melody… The beauty of showing hospitality and being transparent. Having a heart that cares for others before doing things… all in all, if you truly asked for forgiveness in regards to the husband situation, then it’s something inside him. The best way to show Him that your real and that you have changed is by in and through action… Pure Love is giving and expecting nothing in return. I encourage you to pray for Him, I will to and allow God to be in the midst of this situation. I have experienced breakthroughs in my own life when I allow God to be in the midst of situations, I just don’t understand – yet there must be a peace about it. If we ourselves are not at peace, then only God’s truth can replace the lies we believe.

  • Melody Cullivan says:

    How do I get my husband to forgive me for things that I’ve done in the past that he just can’t let go I did something real stupid by posting things on Facebook that should have been on Facebook and I hurted him very bad now he wants to walk out of this marriage of 18 years I told him I’m sorry and I asked him for forgiveness but I don’t know if He has forgiven me he said that its nothing he’s not trying to fight but our marriage because I’m a go back to the same way but how do I show him that I’ve changed I’m not the same person that I used to be I feel bad for him and the kids over the past couple of years I’m doing everything for everybody and not doing what I’m supposed to do as a wife can someone please help me

  • Elkay says:

    Cristina, you did not describe your relationship with Jesus so it is hard to give the “right advice”. You say this man in your past has gone back to Church to find God and that is also your best path forward. Before you can truly forgive yourself (and him), you need to know that you too are forgiven and it is only by knowing and trusting Jesus’ sacrifice for your sins that this can happen.

    Acts 2:38 tells us to repent (change our lifestyle and beliefs to be in accord with Scripture) and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (your public confession and sign that He is Lord) and you will receive the Holy Spirit (be spiritually re-birthed). At that point, you are forgiven your sins and are adopted into the family of God and can be freed from mental self-abuse knowing that you are one of God’s special people destined to proclaim His praises (1 Peter 2:9). With the strength of God at your hand, you may forgive your daughter’s father and yourself and get on with a life of love towards God and service towards mankind.

    Christianity may be new to you so please consider hitting the “Talk To A Mentor” button at the top of this article and get into a private (and free) email conversation with a trained and trusted mentor who can help you along this journey.

    I pray, “Abba Father, Cristina may well be at a crossroads in her life and is unsure how to go forward. Please encourage her to get into a conversation with a mentor who can help her get into a Christ-following relationship with You. She also needs guidance in her ongoing life and we ask that Your Spirit strongly lead her as an adopted daughter along a path that pleases You. This is our prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

  • Cristina says:

    Hello. I have been with my daughter father for on and off for about 8 years. We have a beautiful daughter whome is 7 . I been lied to . cheated on. Disrespected ..cursed at etc etc. We meet when I was 17 . now I am 26 . even when we were not together we always were kinda talking. I found out he’s slept with multiple of women since we haven’t been together . ( haven’t been together for prib one year . again on and off ) so I feel in some way he has cheated on me. When I confront him he always Denys it . lately he’s been going back to church to search for God again. I been so hurt torn into peices .. I always bring up the past .. I am so so hurt and for some reason I still stick around . I want to just let go of the past . I want to forgive him . and I don’t just want to fogve him for him I want to do it alone so I can move on with my self if its with him or anyone else. I can not be happy if I still beat my self up mentally. Any word of advice ? Please.

  • Sharon says:

    to Tanya– prayer–father God I pray for Tanya right now for comfort of her hurt she got from her husband dancing with another lady I pray for healing from this God wrap your arms around her at this time I pray for forgiveness and reconciliation from this and help her forgive him and forget this I pray all of this in JESUS name amen. I am praying for you both and for a miracle for your marriage that you can get past this and not fight anymore– sharon

  • Tanya says:

    My Husband was a best man, at a wedding on saturday, they made a game, and he won with a friend where they had to dance to for another lady. I was a little uncomfortable and hurt about it! my husband being shy, went up and danced, and thought nothing wrong with the whole situation. because he did not touch her or anything! but for me it was disrespectful and made me feel like he did not consider my feelings when doing that! I do not know how to let this go! as it has hurt me, and also made us fight about it! where he then he told me , he does not want another child with me! and regrets saying that! what’s done is done! but I am still feeling extremely hurt and emotional about the whole thing.

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Callie, you do not have to endure your husband’s violence. He needs to get help to overcome that cruel nature. Have you ever reported his actions to law enforcement? Is that something you have talked over with the rest of the family?

  • Callie says:

    My husband did not try choking me. He came home from rehab after relearning how to walk when MRSA caused his spinal cord to be crushed. He decided he had enough of my refusing sex for decades before, for breaking a number of promises about being the wife he expected. He picked a evening he knew was going to cause the maximum problem for his father, and mother and their friends, and he raped me when I was supposed to go with them to an event that evening. It was invitation only and my husband made sure he was not happy about me going on the arm of his fathers best friend. He’s been angry because of not letting him have vacations that others needed more than he needed them. He refused to accept any one had any say in deciding any thing he was to do In 2009 he was standing over me in the airport so angry because I let his father have his boarding pass to g to Europe and it was turned over to a young couple as a wedding gift. and my husband had to go to work again.
    That time he was going to not let me go. He said He had not had a vacation at that time since 1978. I thought he was going to kick all of us in the teeth. When I came home two weeks later he refused to pick us up at the airport. I came home to the accounts cleaned out and the locks changed. We had to have an APB issued to get him to come home. He actually was trying to get a disciplinary leave because it had been three decades since he was on vacation. Everyone felt his reaction was childish and really unneeded. Then the day he decided that he wanted me to call the police and have them place him under arrest for forcing his marital rights, he threatened to put my journals of 33 years and his logs for the same period, He wanted to get everything in them bought public to cause me and his family the Maximum embarrassment possible. All because we tried making him look like the better person for giving up his time for others needs. He uses his fists for any body laying there hands on him not being friendly and his combat training makes him to dangerous to allow him to punish us this way.
    I don’t think there’s been a day in three years now I have not wanted to just cry my eyes out trying to beg for foregiveness and try and negotiate some way to make up the last 33 years without getting someone broken up, the last was his father, just trying to stop his defiance.

  • Kitty says:

    My dearest Sisters Amy & Devon,

    I have walked in your shoes 10 fold, I can say Chris only comes from love. I like you had a great deal of anger regarding the abuser/violators. And God/bible etc…but God does take care of them in his own way, we have to clean our side and keep it clean and walk justly as if we were as white as snow, because GOD loves us and washes us clean of all that ugliness. …that we have to not hold onto the anger because it causes us pain, sickness within, not them…!!! God has our back, I learned there are two WILL’S in the world GODS WILL & MANS WILL, what happen to us is MAN’S WILL, what will happen to them is GOD’S WILL! Trust and Believe they will be dealt with in his time, i have witnessed his wrath upon my oppressors/violators, one by one God has been blessing to allow me witness his wrath on each of them but the GRACE for me to forgive each and everyone of them! Chris only shares from love truly I promise you, the REVENGE/WRATH IS GOD’S not ours, he is the only one who can endure such anger our bodies cannot handle the stress of that emotion truly unhealthy for us, it causes me stress, migraines, at times anorexia before bulimia which turned to where I just overeat now was 200 lbs hated myself, lost the weight. ..and have come to know the LORD and his love for me!

    You see, I was molested at the age of 2, 3, 4, 5, 9 brutally, at 14-18 my Father raped me everymorning of my high school life, I left home as soon as I could, at 16 I told a teacher who used the information to hold it against me and have his way with me and pimp me out to other teachers, raped just out of high school, my first husband was emotionally abusive, eventually the bar was raised to financially,physically…to other men doing the same, I found GOD, I sought him to be my husband started to heal, not quite healed and ran into a childhood classmate we became friends….thought I was ready should have waited on GOD, praise GOD HE told me he was to be my husband. ..I am blessed today

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Amy, I think perhaps there is a different understanding of the word ‘hurt’; I would suggest that Dr Currie is addressing the hurts that we all inflict on our spouse through our selfishness, and not the hurt of a spouse who is physically violent or emotionally abusive. If you want to see his view points on dealing with that level of ‘hurt’ in a relationship have a look at his article “When All Hell Is Breaking Loose” But the necessary pattern for most marriages to forgive and forget is of crucial importance. Wouldn’t you agree that in those cases the suggestions he makes here are very helpful?

    So Amy, are you in an abusive relationship? Do you need someone to talk to about that? One of our mentors is ready to come alongside and walk through that with you. We are not professional counselors but just volunteers who want to listen, to pray with you and help explore options of where you can get professional help. Just fill out the Mentor Request Form at http://powertochange.com/discover/talk-to-a-mentor/ and one of our mentors will be in touch with you soon by email.

  • amy says:

    This article is so irresponsible. Christ also forgave, but said “go and sin no more.” What about a plan for the abuser to do that – to stop abusing and change – or try? Your advice is dangerous. Please get some professional education.

  • Alfred says:

    Maricris, it is great that you could relate your experience to Anthony. You are indeed blessed in that you were able to place your personal loss & sorrow into God’s hands. HE will find you a great husband in His perfect timing.
    Hi Devon, I pray for your husband, hoping that he will see what hurt his father has caused, and change for the better in his own life! Firstly, he must want to change! Secondly, it is God who will do it for him and within him, for this is a thing that no one can do by self-effort alone! May your home be (or become) one where the Bible is read daily and all participate in prayer. As Chrissays says, God has a winning combination for you and for your home. May He soon be able to put a smile on your face.

  • Chris says:

    devon…i am so sorry to hear of this situation. men and marriage do not seem to always be a winning combination especially when they are far from God but you dont have to be. God has a winning combination for you through jesus christ and his great love for you. you see even in a supposed happy marriage, without christ we are really nothing anyway but by having a relationship with ouir heavenly father, we can be rejoicing even when people who should be there for us, arent. if you would like more information on knowing jesus as your true spiritual husband log onto knowingjesuspersonally.com or click talk to a mentor above. praying for you that you see jesus as the answer to all your needs and your husbands too. bye for now!

  • Trish Hicks says:

    Heavenly Father,
    Father I pray for all marriages that are stumbling through with this problem of unforgiveness.I pray you continue to show them all your faithfulness in bestowing grace to fulfill each and will and plan you have for their lives.So that they do make it to the other side, the other side where your plan for their marriage is made well again.And so Father I ask that you help them lay hold on your word, the “No weapon formed against them may prosper”even the weapon of unforgiveness which is straight from the pits of hell.Father I bind these couples marriages to your Holy Spirit , and may they lay hold of your word and walk in it.It’s in the mighty name of Jesus Christ I pray.Amen

  • Devon says:

    I hate my husband to the core. Whenever we get in an argument/fight its when he has drunk a pint of alcohol. We had split up for 1 month and I believe the only reason he is back is because he has nothing and he had got a dui.in the time while he was gone he “claims” he has done no wrong but I know better. He still finds a way to try and put me down by making weight comments and such and states no one would want me blah blah. So much to tell . The sad thing is that he thinks I am hurt because of my first marriage , in which I know I’m not. I think I have ran my course with all of this mess. I need some kind of mental support, my love for him has come to an end months ago. And I am so indecisive right now. Every time I see his drunken father and know what he had put my mother in law through sickens me and I see him making my life just as miserable in the future if I stay with him.

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