Learning to Give and to Receive Forgiveness
by: Michael Fuchs
Forgiveness was one of the first lessons I had to learn to have a wonderful relationship with my wife. We are complete opposites in every way. We are polar opposite in our temperaments, and Sherry is a visual and I am audio, in our communication styles. We see things differently, hear things differently, plan things differently, and explain things differently. These things are not bad, because that is what makes us who we are. I came to realize, later in life, that learning to forgive and not becoming offended is a process. For some of us it takes years.
However, in the first couple of years of our marriage when she would do something, or say something that offended me; I would not talk to her for two to three days. I held this offense against her … judging her … until I thought she had learned her lesson. This would happen over and over again without resolution. She did not understand what was going on, and I wasn’t going to tell her, (because I wasn’t talking to her). This cycle continued because of my stubbornness.
This was confusing for Sherry because she is one of the most forgiving people in the world. She does not hold grudges, and does not separate herself from others. However, I did.
These withdraws from Sherry, when I became offended, was the result of things that happened to me when I was younger. I didn’t know this at that time but came to realize this years later. In short it was my selfish way of trying to control something that I could not control.
I love this lady and I wanted to be the best husband possible. I am committed to be with her for the rest of my life. At least that is what I said, “I do” to “till death”. At this point the process of change started for me. I knew I needed to change and I wanted to change for the better, but I did not know how to make that change happen.
So I decided to meet weekly with a group of guys and find out how to be a better husband. We would meet at my house on Saturday, I would fix breakfast, and we would talk about “what does it take to be a good husband”. One of the guys said that he has the material needed to great marriage. I ask him to bring with him next week.
He said that is not study material for the husband, but that it is study material for couples, (both the husband and the wife). He introduced us to Married for Life. Sherry and I signed up for this 13 week course that became the foundation principles which we were able to build our marriage relationship. The first week of classes I realized that, “it was not what I needed to do or say, but what I needed to become … The Right Spouse for Sherry”.
Change was hard for me, but the fact is that I needed to change in order to have a great marriage with Sherry. At that point I determined to make our relationship more important than anything else. Still clueless on how to do these things, but determined to make it happen.
We went through the Married for Life – 13 week course twice. The material is very good, but the other 7 couples in each of the 13 week courses was a major factor in our journey. They provided the understanding, better perspectives, support, encouragement, and caring that came to be priceless to me.
We went on to become co-leaders and leaders so we could facilitate this 13 week course. We were meeting with other couples, teaching these relationship truths. We shared experiences about life is what helped me to learn how to forgive others. It helped me show others gentleness, giving them grace and mercy. It led me on the path way to finding unconditional love.
It still took many other teaching and lots of help from others to get Sherry and I where we are today, but that was the start. First, I needed to realize I could be a better person. Second was to take the steps to receive help from others. Third is to allow changes to take place in my life to become a better person.
This was the start of a process that is still taking place. It took years for me to realize how to forgive and become less offend able. I needed to gather these tools I have been given and practice using them daily. I found it better to practice with everyone I meet throughout the day, not just with my wife, because these relational principles can be applied to other relationships also; not just the married relationship.
We have learned how to ask for forgiveness and how to receive forgiveness. Let me say that Sherry is much better at this than I am.
On my next post I will share with you the tools to find the road to forgive, and how to receive forgiveness. We will give you the keys of how not to be offended.