So you had a beautiful wedding. Maybe bought a house, and you might even have a cute kid or two. Everything was going as planned.
It was all falling into place. You read great marriage books, you asked for advice, you made it through premarital counseling. Even the part when you try to convince the therapist or pastor that you hardly ever fight, and you are sure there is enough chemistry to keep sex from becoming a chore.
But there is something that feels off. You never imagined this could happen, but you feel a coldness creeping into your relationship. You remember that day at your bridal shower when everyone wrote marriage tips for you. You read them aloud that beautiful day, but you never thought you would actually need the help. Well, now you do. As you flip through the cards in the bottom of a box in your closet, one, in particular, stand out:
A good marriage is made of two good forgivers.
Well, that is nice, you think. Of course, it’s true, but what do you do if you are the only one who says, “I’m sorry”?
You can still have two good forgivers even if one spouse is too stubborn to ask for forgiveness. Some people just cannot seem to say the words. Is it pride? Is it too hard to admit defeat? Or is it just plain old selfishness? Who knows, but if your spouse never apologizes, but will gladly accept your apology, I will understand if you sometimes have to walk outside and scream up to the sky.
Here are three tiny reminders for you if this is your current lot in life. Of course, I can’t begin to know the exact details of your marriage, but here are some things I have found to be helpful in this situation. This type of issue can quickly overwhelm you with all sorts of negative emotions if you aren’t prayerful about it.
1. Don’t freeze him out.
It is so tempting to return evil for evil in this situation, but you must fight against this urge. If you give the cold shoulder, it will bring you further away from your goal, which is to have an intimate and close marriage, right? So stay sweet, because it will only make you feel better about yourself in your quiet moments. Becoming a bitter wife isn’t any fun, and it will just discourage you more. Paying him back with coldness makes the marriage more disconnected.
2. Still apologize.
Just because your husband won’t verbally tell you he is sorry for hurting you, doesn’t mean you quit. Be quick to ask for forgiveness for things you need to make amends for. Just calmly say what you have to say, be specific, and then move on. Try not to spark a huge conversation, and turn it into a huge deal. Don’t grovel, just say you are sorry and leave it. It’s healthy and it’s what God asks us to do.
3. Forgive him if he ain’t even sorry.
I have argued with God many times about this. I have told Him that there is no way I am going to forgive my husband when he hasn’t even lost one second thinking about how rude he was to me. How can I let go of anger when it is fully justified?! When he was so mean and so lacking in empathy or care?
Well, God always lets me rant and rave, and then He reminds me that this is how He loves me every day. No matter how much of a jerk I have been, I find the forgiveness and acceptance I need. Yikes. No matter how mean and lacking in empathy I am, He forgives me. So, the only thing left to do is [to] be forgiving and love my husband even in his selfish moments. It doesn’t always look pretty, and at times I have to really wrestle with the process of forgiveness, but in the end, it’s what I try to do, with God’s help.
I am not saying it’s easy. It’s painful. And I feel bad for you if this is a daily struggle of yours. But the only way to get through is to keep moving forward with Jesus, knowing that He is caring, understanding, and loving in those terrible moments when you want to just quit trying.
I will agree with you that it’s really unfair being the only apologizer. But do it anyway. And then scream up at the sky if you have to, and let God remind you of how gracious He is to you. Even when you don’t even realize you need that same grace. Even when you aren’t that sorry. He loves you perfectly. And so we love in His strength, not our own.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” —Ephesians 4:32