We had been married for about a year and a half when we traveled to my in-laws for the holidays. We were staying in a hotel room with our 6 month-old son, who was just starting to become mobile. While we were getting ready to leave, my husband put Timothy on the bed, even though I told him not to leave him there unattended.
Even though my husband was getting ready right next to the bed, Timothy managed to roll off anyway and hit the corner of his eye on the corner of the nightstand.
Frightened at my child’s screaming and still very hormonal, I yelled at my husband, “If something happens to Timothy’s eye, I will never forgive you!”
Yes, that was the first thing out of my mouth. It was one not one of my finest marriage moments. I felt so justified in my rage because I had asked my husband not to leave him on the bed. It was his fault, and I could hold it against him for as long as I wanted to.
It turns out that the corner of the nightstand hit Timothy just under the eye, so he is fine. And I had to understand that my un-forgiveness was hurting our marriage more than his (perceived) negligence. It has taken me a long time to realize how essential forgiveness is to a marriage. While I found it fairly easy to admit, “I’m sorry,” I have found it harder to say, “I forgive you.”
The irony is that I am not a perfect parent or spouse either. My husband has to forgive me more times than I can count, and he does it well. I’m the one who struggles to let go of his failings. I blame this partly on my melancholic-choleric temperament, and while there are wonderful things about being a passionate idealist/realist, there are also drawbacks that need to be tempered. Thankfully, I have been working on my weaknesses over the years (as marriage is meant to help you do). I know forgiveness is my problem, therefore I can make an intentional effort to work on it.
I have learned that forgiveness is essential: an essential oil that is a healing balm to the brokenness of our human condition, and can be diffused into every part of our relationships, especially marriage. It’s 100% organic and the price is a little bit of our pride, but it’s guaranteed to work.
Three things I have found that can make forgiveness easier are:
1 – Examining your conscience regularly. I have not made this a nightly habit yet but desire to do so. When I frequently examine my conscience to see my own failings, I am more willing to forgive my spouses’. I also become more aware of how much I need the Father’s grace in my life, and can’t be holy on my own.
2- Praying the Our Father. Every time we pray the Our Father, we must say the words, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” It follows then, that if we want God to forgive us, we must forgive one another.
3- Going to Confession. I put the weekly times of confession at our parish in my calendar in an attempt to go more often. Still, I ignore the reminder because it takes an intentional amount of effort for me to go. I have acknowledged that if I examined my conscience before bed more regularly, I would be more prepared to go to Confession at the drop of a hat. I also hate waiting in lines. These are all my excuses, and they are connected to my pride. But as I work on my pride, I also open myself up to God’s forgiveness and the ability to forgive others. Finally and most importantly, God’s grace heals my wounds and recreates me more in his image each time I go to Confession.