Oops, he's done it again: How to forgive your spouse

We all do things unthinkingly that hurt the ones we love. We all need to forgive and be forgiven. Here are some tips that may help you forgive.

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  • Marriage is hard. You take two people from completely different backgrounds, throw them together night and day for the rest of their lives. Inevitably, flaws rise to the surface, imperfections are exposed, and people get hurt.

  • Everyone has a bad day now and then. Everyone feels grumpy once in a while. We all do things unthinkingly that hurt the ones we love. We need to forgive and be forgiven. Here are some tips that may help you forgive.

  • Recognize your spouse isn't perfect — neither are you

  • While dating, we put our best foot forward and try to hide all our imperfections. After marriage, it is impossible to keep that up. You will discover rather quickly that your husband isn't perfect. It is important to remember that neither are you. I try to afford my husband the same patience, understanding and forgiveness that I want him to extend to me. Believe me, that's a lot.

  • Understand where your spouse comes from

  • Your wife comes from a family full of flaws and quirks. She has certainly inherited a good share of them. She probably doesn't recognize that her behavior is hurtful to you. For example, I come from a very big family. We interrupt each other a lot during conversations, probably because it's the only way to have your voice heard in the middle of the cacophony. It is easy for my husband to feel dismissed or unimportant when I interrupt him. However, he forgives me because he understands why I do it.

  • Don't take it personally

  • Your husband most likely is not trying to hurt your feelings. If you can realize that his actions are unintentional, it will be easier to forgive him.

  • Speak up

  • If something is bothering you, tell your wife. Do not let it snowball into a bigger problem than it really is. If there has been a misunderstanding, then you are giving her an opportunity to clear it up. If it is a real problem, you are opening the door to fix it. Choose your battles. Don't bring up every little annoying thing. Try using these tips for resolving conflicts in marriage.

  • Don't keep a list of wrongs or bring up past mistakes

  • We all have an innate desire to be a better person. Your husband is trying to improve, too. Recognize the progress he is making and do not drag past mistakes into your current problem. You do not want him to feel discouraged and give up. Focus on the issue at hand and address it directly.

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  • Do not retaliate

  • It is human nature to want to strike back when someone hurts you. Don't! Many couples fall into a vicious cycle of retaliation. Hurt piles upon hurt until harsh words and anger become the norm. It is much easier to deal with one problem at a time than to try to dig through layers and layers of damage.

  • Remember your spouse's good qualities

  • I admit it. Sometimes my husband's quirks get on my nerves for no good reason. I recognize that the problem isn't him, it is me. So, to counter all that negativity rushing my brain I remind myself of all the wonderful things about my husband. That is a really long list. It helps me let go of the negative feelings and realize that I am lucky to have him.

  • Choose to forgive

  • Forgiveness starts in the mind and ends in the heart. Stop fixating on your hurt feelings. Dr. Gaila MacKenzie has a great technique to help you let go of your negative emotions. When you focus on love, respect and appreciation, you will not have room for anger and resentment. Pray for help if you feel you need it.

  • Don't become a victim

  • If your spouse continues to harm you in the same way without attempting to change his behavior, you might want to seek professional counseling. Some behavior is simply unacceptable. Spousal abuse and repeated affairs are never OK. A professional marriage counselor can help you recognize when it is time to leave the marriage for your health and safety and the health and safety of your family.

  • Forgiveness is a gift that you give to your spouse, to your marriage and to yourself. Practicing the art of forgiveness will lead to joy, peace of mind and personal growth.

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Shelli Howells is a creative fiction writer, and a mother of six.

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