I recently wrote a post talking about the importance of forgiveness and how it affects our spiritual lives, our relationships, and really our emotional state.  About that time, Dr. Wyatt Fisher, a psychologist and founder of Christian Crush, Colorado Marriage Refresh, and Fisher Christian Counseling Services, contacted me about doing a guest post on the site.  Luckily for us, he had just completed a great post on forgiveness.  I encourage you to read his Top Five Steps to Forgiveness here and then follow the link to see his full article on reversing unforgiveness at his site.

Forgiveness is the cornerstone of the Christian faith and should also be the cornerstone of Christian marriages. Without forgiveness, bitterness grows and walls are erected. Since we are fallen by nature, being hurt by our spouse or hurting them, whether intentionally or unintentionally, is usually just a matter of time.  Therefore, we should expect it to occur and more importantly be prepared for it when it does. One of the keys to facilitating forgiveness is cultivating compassion for your spouse’s hurtful behavior. Without compassion, forgiveness becomes very difficult, if not impossible.

There are five main steps to cultivating compassion that can help you forgive your spouse’s hurtful behavior. First, consider what things in their upbringing may have encouraged them to hurt you. For example, perhaps growing up your husband’s mother never showed him any affection and today he doesn’t show you any affection. He’s not being hurtful towards you he’s just replicating what he was raised with. Second, what current circumstances may have encouraged their hurtful behavior? Perhaps your wife forgot to ask you about your important meeting because she was distracted with her own work pressures, not because she was being insensitive.  Third, what were you saying or doing that may have contributed to their hurtful behavior? For example, perhaps you’re hurt that your husband doesn’t make time to listen to you like he once did but maybe it’s because you’re too long winded and listening has become exhausting for him. Fourth, what about your upbringing may be getting triggered by their hurtful behavior? For example, if your father never spent time with you growing up then it will be doubly painful if your husband tends to be a workaholic. Last, where are you also broken? We must be continually aware of our own shortcomings or else we’ll become consumed with only our spouse’s.

Five Ways to Cultivate Compassion for Forgiveness

  1. Consider their upbringing.
  2. Consider their current circumstances.
  3. Consider your contribution.
  4. Consider your upbringing.
  5. Consider your own shortcomings.

Going through these five steps will slowly shift your heart towards compassion for your spouse’s hurtful behavior, which will facilitate forgiveness and healing in your marriage.

This is a brief summary of the full length article found on http://www.christiancrush.com/relationships/unforgiveness-5-ways-to-reverse-it-today.html.

Dr. Wyatt Fisher is a psychologist and founder of ChristianCrush, the Colorado Marriage Refresh, and Fisher Christian Counseling Services