Not trying to click-bait you but even I get lost in the myriad of how to improve our relationships. Marriage is complicated and it does need so many things to grow, many of which I talk about a lot on this blog.
Hmmm… You should work on learning to communicate, being kind, showing affection, and consistently serving each other. Take that time for each other. All good things.
But if I had to pick one skill to learn that is the most important? There is one skill that picks up the slack when you fail at all the others.
I call it the art of the rebound.
After trials, mistakes, hurt feelings, misunderstandings, you have to learn to rebound because that stuff is all inevitable. You have to learn to get back up again when your marriage feels unfixable. When you don’t communicate well, when you don’t serve each other, when you don’t spend enough time together, the art of the rebound picks up the broken pieces.
So how do you rebound in marriage? It’s two sides to the same step.
What does it mean to apologize? We grow up being told that apologizing means saying I’m sorry. Being sorry has to do with being full of sorrow, sadness. Being sad about something that happened is a nice start but it is woefully short of what is necessary for a rebound. Saying sorry is closer to sitting in the stands watching the ball bounce off the rim and going, “ooohhh!!” in disappointment. You’re sorry to see your team fail, but you would never say it’s your fault. You’re just sorry.
What does the Bible say about apologizing? Not much, actually. The term the Bible uses is reconciliation which is repenting, and asking for forgiveness. Admitting that you wronged the other person. This was my fault.
Leaning to ask for forgiveness is the most crucial skill to master but many of us aren’t ever modeled it well. But it’s never too late to learn! It’s not wrong to start with a script even if it feels awkward. “I apologize for ______________. Would you please forgive me?” The more you and your spouse learn to say this after a hurt or misunderstanding, the easier it is to say. Be brave and be the first one to say it.
Forgiveness is the the most powerful tool that Jesus taught.
And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses
If your spouse apologizes, forgive. Forgiveness is saying, even though you have hurt me, you don’t have to repay. We are back to being in good standing. Learning to release those hurts to the Lord and truly forgive is not a natural human power.
You also may be in a place where your spouse hasn’t even apologized or recognize the hurts he has caused. In that you can choose to work towards forgiveness as you work those issues out in your marriage. If you are dealing with significant unaddressed pain in your marriage, please find a counselor to talk to and don’t carry that alone. The process of forgiveness is not saying, “I’m not hurt” but getting to the place where you can say, “He doesn’t have to repay me for the hurt he caused.” These things do take time.
Our ability to forgive easily only comes from first understanding what we already have been forgiven from. Like the debtor in Matthew 18, he had a hard time forgiving because he didn’t truly understand the forgiveness that had been granted to him.
The key to becoming a master rebounder is learning to not just master those two steps but learning to get to them quickly. The sooner you take those two steps, the easier the rebound is and the less effects a bad situation will have on your marriage. Joe and I also call this our reset button. Not letting bad attitudes and unkind words multiply and do more damage.
Matthew 18:21-22 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
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