10 Ways to Cultivate a More Forgiving Heart

Jesus knew that we would need to forgive others, especially our spouse, over and over again. Here are some thoughts to help cultivate a forgiving heart in your relationship:

  1. We will never have to forgive our partner as much as God has forgiven us.
  2. We tend to judge others by their worst act and yet judge ourselves by our best intentions. We are usually quick to forgive ourselves and move past our shortcomings. Give your partner the same grace. Jesus said, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? … You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3, 5).
  3. Sometimes what we perceive as mean-spirited is merely misconstrued, or misunderstood. Lovingly communicate your hurt feelings to your partner and allow them to clarify. Honestly addressing your frustrations allows for understanding instead of allowing frustrations to acted out in negative ways.
  4. Try to understand the motivation behind what was done to hurt you. It has been said, “Hurt people often hurt people.” Perhaps your partner did not deal with a given situation appropriately because he or she was hurting or insecure.
  5. Although your partner may have done something sinful that hurt you, lack of forgiveness is sinful behavior too. When we struggle with forgiveness, it is often because we are resisting giving up our right to be hurt, to pout, or to have our partner acknowledge our position. We need to take the focus off of ourselves and put it back on what God has done for us and what He asks of us. As Paul wrote in Colossians 3:13, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
  6. When your spouse has wronged you, keep things in perspective. Reflect on the greater good of what you love about your spouse and instead of the hurt of the moment.
  7. When you don’t forgive your partner, you allow negative thoughts to rent space in your mind.
  8. It is good to remember that, at some time, you will also need forgiveness. Often, the very thing that we have trouble forgiving is the same thing we turn around and do in a slightly different way. For instance, you may feel that your spouse is being critical of you in a certain area; however, as you pay closer attention to what you say and do, you realize that you, too, are being critical towards your partner in other areas.
  9. When something hurtful is said to you, there is often a grain of truth in it. Be open to examining your partner’s words and consider how you might make some positive changes. Accept the lesson and release the hurt.
  10. Make a commitment to each other that you will never go to bed without forgiving one another even if you have to finish the discussion later.
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