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

  • 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.

  • MARICRIS says:

    ANTHONY, I KNOW WHAT UR WIFE IS GOING THROUGH. GIVE HER SOME TIME ITS DUE TO THE AFTER BIRTH. HER HORMONES ARE STILL GOING THROUGH SOMETHING BELIEVE ME. I WENT THROUGH IT AND DUE TO THAT MY RELATIONSHIP WITH MY DAUGHTER FATHER HAS BEEN MESS UP. I HAVENT HEARD FROM HIM SINCE ALMOST THREE MONTH THOUGH WE ARENT MARRIED, HE IS STILL ANGRY AT ME FOR FILLING FOR CHILD SUPPORT AND FOR WANTING HIM TO BE A MAN AND GROW UP A LITTLE. HE COULDNT HANDLE THE LONG DISTANCE AND HAS REPLACE US WITH SOMEONE ELSE WHO IS DIVORCE AND HAS A CHILD FROM A DIFFERENT MAN. HE HAS NOT PAID ATTENTION TO OUR DAUGHTER AND IT HURTS ME AS A MOTHER, NOR DID HIS FAMILY REACH OUT TO ME. I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN FAITHFUL TO HIM EVEN NOW. I STILL HOPE THAT MY FAMILY WILL BE WHOLE AGAIN BUT ITS IN GODS HAND. I JUST CANT BELIEVE THAT HE COULD JUST THROW SOMETHING SO SPECIAL AS GOD GIFT LIKE HIS DAUGHTER. I HOPE ONE DAY HE WILL WAKE UP AND SEE THE BIGGER PICTURE.

  • Anthony says:

    Reading this has helped me sort out some thoughts. My wife and I have been married just a short while and have been very happy together, but we had a child a few months ago and my wife has changed a lot since then. She is very testy and impatient with me, makes decisions without valuiing my input, and has passive-aggressively made me feel like I am worthless. My instinct has been to snap at her but i think back to how much i loved her before our baby came into our lives and how I want to not go down the road of seperation. I keep compiling instances in my mind of when she has offended me but i can see now that this is not the right thing to do. I am hopeful that prayer and talking to her when I am calm will help things.

  • Shawn says:

    Kathryn
    From what I’m reading, I see she has no remorse/care for your forgiveness. It seems as if she is knick picking. Also, did your husband have a conversation with the both of you where you actually see him telling her that what they had is over? If not he needs to do so. You must let him know what she is doing is unacceptable, either you find another church to keep that temptation away or change the church service hour you attend. At the same time keep your mind busy with other things such as the things you like doing or do something new so that you won’t get caught up in your feelings. at the same time your husband will see that he is not the only one in the world that you care about. You won’t be playing mind games you will just have another focus. Continue to be the Proverbs 31 woman and then he will truly realize 80 is better than 20.

  • Chris says:

    Katherine…so sorry to hear of this situation….in no way should this person be allowed to carry on in such a way. 1 corinthians 5 is clear that church discipline should have been administered to her which means she would have been at least temporarily not permitted to congregate with the rest of the members. if that didnt happen then you dont have a bilical pastor or church. i would suggest looking for another one or talk to your pastor about the situation since he doesnt appear to have much hands on supervisión there either through ignorance or neglect. jesus bless you as you do.

  • Chris says:

    Katherine…i regret to hear of this situation…in no way should this person be allowed to carry on in this manner. in fact, if she wasnt disciplined according to

  • Katherine says:

    I want to thank you for your words of wisdom, and also look for advice. I know all these things need to be done, and forgiveness is what we have to do. Well, I’ve done that. My husband cheated on me with a girl from church. God is restoring our marriage, and I have forgave them both. However, this girl walks around with such a pride. And I know its sad because pride it’s not good, we need to be humble. But after forgiving her she acts with no humility or humbleness in her heart and often goes where my husband I are sitting. Not sure why? I can’t help but to get angry and also at my husband a bit because I am the one who suffered and the one who like he says, “my humbleness is my weakness” but this is whisky it is to be a Christian to be humble and forgive those who hurt you. At the same time I am human and my feelings get in the way. What can I do? How do I handle this situation when she comes around with this pride?

  • Elkay says:

    Tamara, it is so refreshing to read your post that looks at life’s “trials and tribulations” positively rather than complaining about how I am not getting what I think God ought to be doing in my life. Yes, it is during periods of challenge and adversity that God is using the circumstances to prepare us for the future and grow us spiritually. We learn endurance through the difficult experiences and trials bring us to greater spiritual maturity. In the process, we will find that our faith has been strengthened.

    James 1:2 is short, but it contains tremendous insight into life’s trials. The phrase “when you encounter various trials” includes three words that demonstrate the inevitability of hardship. First, James says “when” meaning that encountering trials is not a matter of if but rather when. Second, when he says that you will “encounter” trials, he is stating that they will come unexpectedly. Third, he uses the adjective “various” to denote the ever-changing, often-surprising forms in which trials appear.

    Peter tells us “there is joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” (1 Peter 1:6-7) Life certainly isn’t easy. However, we have a loving God who not only understands our suffering but also chose to experience it Himself. Because He did, we can now claim participation in the ultimate victory over every trial of life.

  • Hello, its always a blessing to read or hear others comments feedback or the pain of being betrayed dishonest been caused hurt pain suffering and made it through and walked right out that much stronger and closer to Christ himself . This was usually the time I found myself asking god for help . I’ve learned we as human being ate not perfect even near close to GOD and no matter the circumstances , trails, and to tribulations in our life isn’t to damage nor hurt us in any way to but prepare us for wat really lies before us.learn to live live to learn to accept the things you can not change and the wisdom to know the difference. God bless to everyone whoses be broken in anyway I say ” SHAKE IT OFF” god bless.

  • Kate says:

    It is great converse, encourage and support one another on this site. We have a lot to learn from others and to gain from their input. Mentors are also available by clicking on the Talk to a Mentor link at the top of the page.

  • Kitty says:

    Jazz, Chris and Shawn have it right I wish I people like them in my life at the time of my first
    Engagement, to guide me share with me the truth, because it is the truth.

    How he treats you now, before your married is how he will treat you while your married; speaking from experience
    twice married my last marriage I decided to do it different, sought God out, didn’t live with him, wanted to do it the
    Right way still stumbled, but hindsight wish I had been totally obedient, there are consequences for not being obedient
    I don’t wish them on anyone, if I could do all over again so I wouldn’t have had to wonder in the wilderness all those
    Years I would, to struggle I would!! I would read his word seek his presence, I would get into an amazing Womens
    Bible study like the one I speak of in this thread of conversation just immerse myself, fellowship with the women, find a
    Titus Godly Woman to mentor me, so God could prepare me for that amazingly awesome Godly Spouse he has prepared
    For me! Because he has one for you Jazz, trust and believe! He loves you his little princess, and he has a man who call
    You his precious little gift as my husband does, I thank God he has blessed Me, trust he has him getting prepared to take
    Of your precious heart, soul and body! I will keep you in my prayers Jazz, wait on The Lord my dear he will reveal himself to
    You!

  • Shawn says:

    Jazz
    Based on your comment of your fiancé damaging your heart , I can just tell what nasty, degrading words he said to you. You are in a better situation than most of us because he is just a “fiancé”. You can choose to call it quits without going thru the ramifications. This guys maturity level will not be there until he reaches his mid 30’s. Go and do you and you only. When God puts that right man in your life you will know it..without a shadow of doubt. Don’t settle for less than the best for yourself. You deserve to be treated like a gift. If later in life this guy grows to be the one for you then no devil in hell can keep it from you. Continue to seek God and ask him to make it known to you whether he is the one. This may actually be the answer you were seeking if you had already asked. Don’t overlook the answers you seek.

  • Chris says:

    jazz…i regret to hear of your situation. its sad indeed if your boyfriend cannot be on his best behavior before marriage, there isnt much to expect from him after marriage. you do well to distance yourself from him and let him prove to be the selection of jesus for you. the one jesus sends your way will be a true man of christ and have his love for God, you and others his first priority, not his last one. i pray jesus console you in this situation and give you the freedom of his spirit and authority of his words to stand on and not back down from Gods best for your life amen. knowingjesuspersonally.com

  • Jazz says:

    Im not married yet but my fiance and I got into a huge fight. Alot of Things got damaged with my heart. I stayed away from him for a week, he still contacted me and I told why I wanted my space. He then took my ring and returned it saying he needed the money but since then he’s bought many new things even things for his family members. I know marriage isn’t solely based on a ring but in place of mines he’s bought himself a ring that he wears on his ring finger. I just feel like its been damage beyond damage, that he’s placing into our relationship. I feel hopeless in it. And it brings me to tears because when people tell me to pray because I don’t want to pray about this anymore. I’m tired of him walking all over me and treating me how ever he feels. While Im stuck here stinging

  • Kitty says:

    MJCalhoun my sister, I am truly sorry about the incident, I want to say my husband, in one of our spats put his hands on me, I called the police they picked him up and I filed a restraining order, because the first marriage I had been in an abusive marriage where he said he was sorry and he would get help and it would stop well it went on for years…but the one thing I learned thru the experience is that I had to changed too!
    If there is drugs or alcohol involved, I would recommend Alan on and
    If there is local church a women’s bible study the best study I ever did to understand the needs and reasons of my husband’s behavior was this bible study:

    On the Other Side of the Garden: Biblical Womanhood Paperback – January 4, 2004
    by Virginia R. Fugate (Author), J. Richard Fugate

    A girlfriend who does a video overview of each chapter on facebook is amazing. Read the chapter, do the workbook for the chapter and view the video on facebook it will change your life, I promise you I feel in love with my husband all over again and he me, I had filed for divorce 2.5 years ago and this saved my marriage. ..

    https://www.facebook.com/ontheothersideofthegarden?fref=nf

  • MJCalhoun says:

    Amen
    Thank you Susan

  • Susan says:

    Jean,

    I am so sorry to hear about this incident. But, at the same time, I appreciate for that wonderful forgiving spirit. Like Chris said, Jesus is the answer for everything. Only Jesus can change your husband and heal you. Let’s look to Jesus.

    Father God,

    I commit this family. Lord, change Jean’s husband and draw him closer to You. Lord, fill Your love and peace in this marriage. Lord, heal Jean completely and help her to know You in a deeper way. Lord, bless Jean and I thank You for hearing our prayers. In Jesu’ name, Amen.

  • Susan says:

    MJCalhoun,

    Father God,

    I commit this couple in your hand. Lord, I pray that You restore this marriage, protect them. Thank You for hearing our prayers. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

  • MJCalhoun says:

    Thank you Chris

  • Chris says:

    mjcalhoun…i pray to the father in jesus name that true healing comes to you and your husband so that you both can walk again in the unity of the holy spirit, being restored by jesus precious love and compassion, a bright future according to jeremiah 29.11 to 13 in his name amen

  • MJCalhoun says:

    So a week ago today my husband almost choked me to death. He has agreed to see someone and I do love him however Im not sure how to get past this.
    Please just say a prayer for me Gods will be done not mine.
    Thank you

  • kitty says:

    There is a show called “submissive wife” on the TCL that is awesome tooo

  • kitty says:

    Tonya, read the chapters, get the workbook work thru the book and then view the chapter on facebook she is a true blessing to all

  • kitty says:

    There is a workbook as well and here is my friends Facebook site…https://www.facebook.com/ontheothersideofthegarden?fref=nf

  • kitty says:

    Tonya-
    On the Other Side of the Garden: Biblical Womanhood Paperback – January 4, 2004
    by Virginia R. Fugate (Author), J. Richard Fugate (Editor), & 1 more
    25 customer reviews

  • Chris says:

    tonya Covington…i pray that jesus would console your heart in the knowledge that he is with you and your acceptance of him into your heart assures you of peace and joy in this life despite whatever is happening in your marriage. at the same time i pray for healing into your marriage relationship and that your husband like yourself, would come ever so close to christ who is love and the love in your lives in jesus name amen. knowingjesuspersonally.com

  • PLEASE EMAIL ME TO VIDEO AND THE AUTHOR OF TH BOOK. BEEN MARRIED 25YEARS TIRED OF CRYING MYSELF TO SLEEP

  • Kitty says:

    I am just blown away by all of this hurt, woman after woman feeling neglected, abused, rejected, I am so saddened my heartaches….if I could suggest one miracle book, it would be “The other side of the garden” it was a blessing to me. I thought I knew what it was to be a godly woman why did my 1st cheat and beat, why is my 2nd all messed up, abusive mean hateful secretive etc. .. I could go on, BUT GOD had to change me from the inside out I didn’t have a good role model and neither did he, I filed for divorce it was over for me. But you see it wasn’t over for GOD! God became my role model, he showed me my mistakes he changed me, molded me, to be really what I needed to truly be a GODLY WOMAN IN HIS EYES NOT MINE. I grew up during the sixties, liberation burning of the bras, we were going to be equal to men! THIS GOES AGAINST GOD’S PLAN FOR MARRIAGES TO WORK, I wanted to be treated equally, THIS GOES AGAINST ALL GOD INTENDED AND WOULD DESTROY MARRIAGES,men were all facetious pigs, THIS MA KS MARRIAGE IMPOSSIBLE, I don’t trust any man for that matter I don’t need him/them GOD MADE MARRIAGE TO PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE IF WE DO NOT NEED THEM HOW CAN WE PREPARE FOR GOD’S PLAN? Remember I thought all the things you all did, after 9 months of crying reading doing the study with a group of women, same thought process as mine I was kicking and screaming I realized God had a lot of work to do! And we had to get down and dirty to really get rid of some old bad behavior patterns that were destroying my marriage and had destroyed my first. That was 2.5 years ago needless to say, we are not divorced, we have had some major changes in our lives….there is a video blogger for this book she walks you thru each chapter, if your interested just respond to this message and I will forward you the link…blessings to all….

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