Breaking Down Barriers:  The Power of Forgiveness in Marriage

By Celeste

I love self-help books.  I love the feeling of empowerment I get when I read about how I can improve my life.  Every now and then I’ll read a really good one that I can’t stop thinking about.  Friends, I’ve come across such a book.  It’s called Forgive For Love by Fred Luskin.

I’ve always believed in the power of forgiveness, but I guess I’ve always just thought about it from a religious perspective.  For some reason hearing about it from a more academic perspective has been eye-opening for me.  Fred Luskin is a professor at Stanford and has published countless articles on the power of forgiveness in people’s lives.  People who forgive have better health, lower blood pressure, they are more productive at work, and report higher levels of life satisfaction.

But more than just convincing me forgiveness is important, Dr. Luskin’s book has given me the specific tools to become a forgiving person.  In his book Forgive For Good, he outlines nine steps to forgiveness.  His book Forgive For Love focuses just on forgiveness in relationships.  One afternoon while getting stuff done around the house I spent about three hours listening to youtube clips of Dr. Luskin speaking at various events (start with his TED talk here).  I felt like I had just done yoga for three hours (or at least that’s my understanding of people’s description of how yoga makes them feel . . . ).  I felt so zen.

Friends, I’ve become convinced that being a forgiving person is the key to a happy marriage.  It affects EVERYTHING.  It is the key to being happy no matter what happens to you, no matter what other people (including your spouse) do to you.  It is freedom.

I recently wrote a guest post on the most excellent blog Family, Good Things to Come about this very topic.  Here’s an excerpt:


Last Thursday I had kind of a rough day with the kids.  I was tired from staying up a little too late and the kids’ energy was just doing me in.  It was one of those days when I was counting down the minutes to 5:45pm when my knight in shining armor would come rescue me and my sanity.

The only problem was when he came home from work, he was tired too.  Funny how that works.  So, instead of relieving me by coming home, playing a couple of rounds of UNO with the kids, making dinner, folding the laundry and feeding me grapes (as I wistfully imagined the scene playing out), he instead came home, got on the computer and relaxed.

I was miffed.  I let my miffed-ness bleed into my interactions with him that night, into the next day and even the next (without telling him why of course), which then had the effect of spreading my grumps to him.  We were off for a few days.

Now let me preface this by saying that I believe in forgiveness.  I really do.  I believe in its power.  I believe that in just about every conceivable situation of hurt, forgiveness is the route that will bring the most peace.  Why then is it so easy for me to see that if the people around me would just forgive their spouse/co-worker/mother-in-law they would be so much happier, and at the same time so easy for me to forget the principle entirely when I’m bothered by something?

Funny how that works.

Generally when I’m hurt or bothered by the actions of others and the idea of forgiveness crosses my mind, some other less-desirable part of my mind comes back with lots of “yes, but”s.  I have a feeling most of my roadblocks to forgiveness are some of yours too, so let’s de-bunk them together shall we?

Yes, But What They Did Was Wrong!

Finish reading here.

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