“I’ll never allow anyone to hurt me like that again! I’ll never be made a fool of! I won’t ever be that vulnerable again!” Little did I know, how significantly, those vows would impact and sabotage my life and marriage!

It’s been written “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” Though not necessarily found directly within Scripture, this phrase is deeply profound and contains the key to a happy marriage. Despite our natural inclination to hold on to offenses, God commands us to forgive, as He has forgiven. Colossians 3:13 says,“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”But…forgiveness can be tough. Oh, we may be willing to forgive, but find ourselves powerless to live out that forgiveness with complete freedom. We find ourselves trying to will away negative emotions of un-forgiveness, only to find it resurfacing when we least expect it. We understand that forgiveness is a choice and a mandate for marriage—but all too often we fail to be able to extend it, completely. So, the million dollar question remaining is how? How do you overcome bitterness, and freely forgive?Here are a few suggestions that helped us in our journey:
Submit your pain to God. Remember, sometimes pain is expressed in stages.

God is near and ready to help. He is close to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)
Confess any hatred or anger you may be harboring. Address your emotions head on. Express them to God in simple sentences. Ask for help and the ability to forgive. Vocalize forgiveness out loud. It’s good to hear yourself say it. “I forgive (interject name) for (interject offense). God help me to remember this offense no longer.”
Remember God is your defender. He is faithful to protect. Don’t take vengeance into your own hands. God will protect far better than you can defend yourself. Ask for His intervention.
Recognize you can’t control another person’s actions. Each of us will give an account for our own actions, not one another’s. Submit your life to the principles of God’s Word and allow Him to convict your offender.
Finally, freedom starts with a choice to forgive. We can’t change our past, but we need NOT be a victim to it. If we harbor bitterness it only destroys us. So, even if you don’t feel like forgiving, begin by praying “Lord I’m willing to be willing.”
Forgiveness isn’t easy…but it is liberating. For more insights on making your marriage thrive, pick up a copy of What I Wish My Mother Had Told Me About Marriage: Unlocking 10 Secrets to a Thriving Marriage.