Asking for and granting forgiveness is difficult because usually our pride is involved. This process becomes easier when we have established the ‘goodwill’ bank account we discussed in session two.
The offending party needs to take the initiative to ask for forgiveness. This involves:
Determine what, how and when something should be said.
Asking for forgiveness might look something like this. “Yesterday, I said you always spend too much. I was wrong to accuse you, especially when I used the word ‘always’. Will you forgive me?” Then keep quiet and wait for your partner’s reply.
The person who was wronged is responsible to forgive – even if the partner never asks forgiveness. In granting forgiveness, we make a choice to give up our right to punish the other person. Forgiveness is a supernatural response. We can call on the power of the Holy Spirit to empower us to forgive, even when we don’t feel like it. After all we also want to be forgiven when we fail.
Sometimes we agree to disagree. In light of eternity, some issues really aren’t worth our energy to fight about. Don’t make a conflict where there doesn’t need to be one.
The late Dr Gary Smalley had a brilliant video series called ‘Anger to Intimacy’. In it he tells the story of a friend whose wife was continually leaving drawers and doors open. She didn’t do it intentionally; she just didn’t see it. The husband tried every conceivable way to change her, but he failed. In the end, he just decided to be a ‘drawer closer.’ Sometimes we need to overlook the offense and be a ‘drawer closer’ – end of conflict.
Finally, it’s important to remember that it is rarely just one person in the relationship who causes the conflict. Even if your partner is 97% wrong and you only contributed 3%, it’s important that you acknowledge your 3% and also seek forgiveness.
The issue is not who wins or loses but restoring harmony and ‘oneness’ in the relationship.