If you are married, you will have conflict. You cannot avoid it because marriage is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person. You are a sinner, and you are married to a sinner.
You will sin against your spouse, and your spouse will sin against you. Couples who claim to never fight are either lying or living passionless, independent, parallel lives, so emotionally distant that hurting each other is virtually impossible. Two sinners do not equal zero conflict. Fights are going to happen
What do you need to repent of to your spouse?
Married couples have to continually practice repenting of sin if they hope to have any loving, lasting life together. Gary Thomas says in Sacred Marriage, “Couples don’t fall out of love so much as they fall out of repentance.”
Homes accumulate trash, so we must take it out often. When we don’t take the trash out, our entire home can smell. Sin is like trash, and every home has it too. Repentance and forgiveness are how a couple takes their trash out.
When You Sin
When we sin against our spouses, we cause them to suffer. When we sin, we should apologize, ask forgiveness, and try to make things right.
James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another.” In confession, we agree with God that we have sinned and that sin includes both our mind and mouth.
Because Jesus died for and conquered sin, we are free to turn from sin by the power of the Holy Spirit. Repentance is not just feeling bad about our sin; it’s feeling what God feels about our sin. This includes both our emotions and expressions. Our heart should be affected, not just our words. True repentance and change can happen by the grace of God.
When You’re Sinned Against
When we are sinned against, we need to forgive quickly. Jesus’ words on this are haunting: “Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us” (Luke 11:4). We cannot simply ask God to forgive our sins; we must also extend that same forgiveness to others.
Forgiveness is a gospel issue. In our hurt and wounds, we can lose sight of the truth that no one has been sinned against more than God. No one has been more wounded, grieved, hurt, betrayed, and mistreated than God. Furthermore, we each have contributed to the pain that God experiences, as all sin is ultimately against God. This means that God could be the most embittered person.
Instead, He came as Jesus and took our place to suffer for our sins, pronouncing forgiveness from the cross.
Therefore, our forgiveness of our spouses has very little, if anything, to do with them. Instead, it has everything to do with God. As an act of worship, we must respond to our sinful spouses as God has responded to our sin—with forgiveness—because it is a gospel issue. We cannot accept forgiveness from God without extending it to our spouses.
If we don’t kill our sin, our sin will kill our marriages. What do you need to repent of to your spouse? What do you need to forgive your spouse for?
This piece is adapted and repurposed material from Real Marriage