Love starts with a crush, followed by a game of cat and mouse. You eventually catch each other and the game continues. You plan an elaborate wedding or a sweet affair in the backyard and your vows express all the love the world can handle. The honeymoon period is just that and lasts anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of years. You have kids and life goes on until you wake up one day and realize the spark has gone with it. Of course you want to get it back, but how?
It's easier said than done, but forgiving your spouse will help you get that spark back in your marriage. Here are seven ways to start the process:
1. Be the first to say "I'm sorry"
Saying sorry is hard. It feels like admitting that you were wrong and we all know you were right. But if your spouse is just as stubborn as you are, the argument will never end. Someone has to step up and apologize and it may as well be you. Plus, your apology will most likely spark an apology on their end as well. If you can't be right, isn't being half right is better than being wrong?
2. Let go of your expectations
Look at your expectations for your spouse like you look at your New Year's resolutions. If you set them too high, you will never be satisfied. Having expectations is good, but make them reasonable. One key to loving and appreciating your spouse is to do just that. Let go of your insane expectations. They are human too. Appreciate each other for the little things and you will see that spark reignite.
3. Don't live in the past
If you find yourself dwelling on the great times that happened in the past and longing to return to those easier times, stop. Change is inevitable, so stop comparing and look to the future. It is bright.
4. Don't hold things against them
We all do this. In the heat of an argument we bring up some past mistake to throw in the face of our spouse. It brings with it an immediate feeling of satisfaction, but that feeling is oh so fleeting and it is followed by prolonged guilt and renewed anger. Let your spouse repent and don't hold them accountable to their past forever.
5. Forgive and forget
You cannot fully forgive if you continue to remember. You must forget what you had to forgive them for in the first place in order for the love to stay alive. Love cannot remain ablaze in a hostile environment, so forgive and do your best to forget.
See where they are coming from. Try to understand why something is so important to them. Try to understand why they may be mad, sad, frustrated or annoyed. You have your reasons for your own emotions and so does your spouse. Take the time to think from their point of view. You will be able to appreciate each other so much more; the world will open up and your conflict will be easy to resolve.
7. Get excited for the future
The future really is exciting. There is so much to live for and so much to enjoy. If you are looking to it and living for it, the spark may flicker, but it will never be able to fully die.
Forgiveness may not seem like the natural way to revive your marriage, but that is exactly why it will work. When you begin to forgive, you let go of the past and the future opens up bright before you. You will appreciate your spouse more and fall in love all over again.