Category: Conflict

Five Apologies

When is the last time you apologized?  What did you say or do?  Did the person to whom you apologized seem to accept your apology?  Did they forgive you?  Was the relationship healed?  If not, I have an idea as to why they found it hard to forgive you.  They did not hear your apology as being sincere.

When someone hurts us and is now trying to apologize, the question in our minds is: are they sincere?  We judge sincerity by how they apologize.  If they simply say, “I’m sorry,”  that may seem a bit weak.  We may want to hear them say, “I was wrong.  Will you please forgive me?”  There are five ways to apologize.  If you speak only one, you will likely come across as insincere.

Honesty is the Foundation

Do you tend to hold things inside instead of sharing your thoughts and feelings? One wife said, “He came home one day and told me he was leaving. I could not believe it. I had no idea that it was that bad.” How does this happen in a marriage? Or, in a friendship? It happens when we fall silent. No one can read your mind.

Once we share our thoughts and feelings we can work on a solution. No one can work on a solution until he is aware of the problem. Often, we don’t talk because we are afraid of how the other person will respond. In that case we are in bondage to our fear. Break the silence and give your relationship a chance. Honesty is the foundation for authentic relationships.

Source of Power

People sometimes say, “My spouse has hurt me so deeply, I don’t know that I can ever love them again.” I understand that when the hurt is deep and the anger fresh, it seems that we cannot love. However, we must remember that God loved us while we were still sinners and sent Christ to die for us. You may say, “That’s God; not me. I can’t do that.”

If you are a Christian, Romans 5:5 tells us that God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. We have received the love of God and now we dispense His love to others. You can show God’s love to your spouse by the way you talk and by your actions regardless of your emotions. When you love, you reflect the character of God.

Reflecting God's Character

The biblical concept of marriage is that marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman to live together in mutual love and respect for the glory of God. Marriage is not about us. It is about God and His kingdom. God ordained marriage as the foundational unit of society. Marriage, done God’s way, creates the safest and best environment in which to rear children.

But not all couples follow the covenant principles of marriage. For example covenant marriage is based on steadfast love – looking out for the interest of each other. Seeking to encourage and support each other. Covenant marriages also require confronting and forgiving when wrongs are committed. If you find this difficult, remember God is our source of power for marriage and for life.

Reflecting God’s Character

The biblical concept of marriage is that marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman to live together in mutual love and respect for the glory of God. Marriage is not about us. It is about God and His kingdom. God ordained marriage as the foundational unit of society. Marriage, done God’s way, creates the safest and best environment in which to rear children.

But not all couples follow the covenant principles of marriage. For example covenant marriage is based on steadfast love – looking out for the interest of each other. Seeking to encourage and support each other. Covenant marriages also require confronting and forgiving when wrongs are committed. If you find this difficult, remember God is our source of power for marriage and for life.

Principles to Build

Not only does God give us the principles on which to build a healthy marriage, He gives us the power to follow those principles. Let’s face it, many of the principles of God go against our nature. For example: Return good for evil. Who wants to do that? Our human nature says, “make them pay for their evil. I’ll have nothing else to do with them.”

Certainly, they must be held accountable for their wrong doing, but if they repent, we are instructed to forgive them. If they do not repent we are told to release them to God. Either way, we are then to return good for evil: do something for their benefit. This is exactly what God has done for us. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Father, give us the attitude of Christ.

Less Dogma

If you have a silent spouse have you ever wondered why? One husband said, “it’s because every time I share an idea, she pounces on it and tells me how wrong I am.” His wife’s perspective was that she simply wanted the freedom to disagree when she thought he was wrong. What she did not realize was that she was striking at his self-esteem.

We discovered that if she would share her ideas in the form of a question rather than a pronouncement, he was less defensive. “What do you think about this perspective?” was very different from “I disagree with you. That’s simply not true.” Learning to share your ideas with less dogma may open the road to more meaningful conversations. It’s worth the effort. Give it a try.

Integrity Reborn

Can trust be re-born in a marriage? Yes, if integrity is re-born. Trust dies when deceit is born. When you lie to your spouse in order to cover-up some behavior, you have taken the first step in killing trust. A few more lies and trust will be destroyed. The only way to restore trust is to confess your sin, ask for mercy, and then re-commit yourself to telling the truth.

On the practical level this means that you must establish a new record of being trustworthy. Invite your spouse to investigate your behavior. Every time your mate discovers your actions matching your words, trust grows. It takes time, but you can become a person of integrity and your spouse can come again to trust you.

Love is Gentle

When a couple comes to the point of separation, it is usually with many negative emotions. The temptation is to express these emotions in harsh words and brutal attacks. Nothing pleases Satan more than to see two Christians fighting each other. God’s way is love in the midst of hurt. Christ loved us even when we were killing him.

The scriptures say, ‘love is not rude’. The opposite of rudeness is courtesy. The word means to be ‘friendly minded’ – to treat your spouse as a friend. There is nothing to be gained by arguing and screaming. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger (Proverbs 15:1). Certainly you need to discuss issues, but not in the attack mode.

Kindness Expressed

In my book, Hope for the Separated, I’m bold to suggest that you should be kind to the spouse who has walked out on you. I know it doesn’t seem natural, but we are called to love our enemies, and love is kind. The word ‘kind’ means ‘to be useful or beneficial’. What can you say or do that would be useful or beneficial to your spouse?

If you are a husband who has left, there are scores of things around the house that you could do for your wife, if she is willing. If your wife has left you, you may still be able to do some things that are ‘beneficial’ to her. What is to be gained by not helping her? You can be God’s agent of love. Love, expressed in kindness, is often the first step toward reconciliation.

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