Free Yourself

Free Yourself and Your Spouse through Forgiveness

Stay in the prison of unforgiveness or free yourself (and your spouse) with this six-part process.

If your marriage relationship is broken, you can’t possibly be healed of your emotional and spiritual hurt until you forgive your spouse. Unforgiving people always end up in prison – a prison of anger, broken relationships, blocked faith, guilt, and personal brokenness.

How to forgive your spouse

Every time you are on an airplane, the flight attendant comes on the intercom and says, “In case of an emergency, first put on your oxygen mask, and then help the person next to you.” The reason is obvious. If you don’t have adequate oxygen yourself, you won’t be able to help anyone else. In the same way, the process of forgiving your spouse focuses first on you, and then extends to your spouse.

Even if the issue that needs forgiveness in your marriage is usually more about your spouse than it is about you, there are six questions to ask yourself that are helpful. They can bring great understanding and the freedom to either forgive or be forgiven. This process is meant to be done alone, before you would ever talk with your spouse about the incident.

The Process of Forgiveness

  1. What? What was the offense that continues to bother you? Be specific and give as much detail as you can. Write it out in a journal.
  2. How did I feel? What were my emotions? Disappointment? Hurt? Do I feel angry or resentful? Did it cause me to be lonely or depressed?
  3. How did I react? Did I get angry? Pout? Refuse to talk about it? Pull inward?

These first three questions help me get in touch with my feelings, emotions, concerns and reactions. They also help me to focus on what exactly it is that is causing my hurt. The next three questions move toward reconciliation, but again I am looking at my issues, not my spouse’s. These three questions involve some very spiritual-sounding words: confession, forgiveness, repentance. They will bring us toward reconciliation and forgiveness.

  1. Confession: What was my part in the conflict?
  2. Forgiveness: What do I need to forgive my spouse for and is there something I need to ask forgiveness for in this conflict?
  3. Repentance: What will I do about it?

Key to unlock

Forgiveness is a key that unlocks a blocked relationship. With God’s help you will find it easier to do than when you try to do it on your own. You can be bitter or better. Is there something you are holding on to with your spouse? Do you have a difficult time choosing to forgive and move on? If you struggle, you are normal. However, the most courageous marriages find intimacy and freedom through forgiveness. Yes, you have to face the issues. You can’t bury or repress the problems. It may be complicated, and no one said it would be easy. But choosing forgiveness for you and your spouse is one of the healthiest decisions you can ever make.


Article by Jim Burns who is author of “Creating An Intimate Marriage”. Used with permission from Marriage Magazine, Winter 2012.