Whether you’ve been married for one year or sixty, your spouse gets on your nerves.
That is, if you’re being honest.
Living in the same house with someone, especially if that someone was raised in an entirely different environment than you were and has different views on life, is a challenge of epic proportions.
We all let our guard down with those closest to us. And when our guard is down, we are not always at our best.
We say not-so-nice things, and no one is more likely to catch that than our significant other.
Just like a kid with their momma, saving their worst behavior for home, our spouse is our safe space. We often save our worst behavior for them. We let it all hang out, literally and figuratively.
And when that inevitably happens, what do we hope our partner will do for us?
Forgive us? Try to understand? Blanket our messiness with love?
In order to receive that, we should be prepared to actively extend it as well.
I’m not saying to give a free pass for unforgivable things
It’s important to remember, though, that extending forgiveness and understanding does not mean making excuses for completely unacceptable behavior.
Some behavior does not deserve forgiveness, but that is also the type of behavior that would likely lead you to end a marriage, so it’s not what I’m writing about today.
I’m talking about day-to-day upsets that can begin to feel bigger by the day if we don’t make the choice to forgive.
Forgiveness is simply an active decision not to harbor resentment against our spouse for something that upset us.
An apology from them is a rather important step that leads up to that, though it’s also not always necessary, especially for “small” things.
Often, these small things may be something our spouse isn’t even aware they’ve done. A misstep they aren’t conscious of.
If it’s not important enough for us to discuss it with them, it’s not big enough to warrant holding against them.
We can and often should make the choice to blanket our partner in love, especially of we’re aware they’re under a particularly high level of stress and the offense is out of character for them.
Anger and resentment will never help
Resentment is one of the biggest killers of a relationship.
Open communication, followed by forgiveness, is a necessity in any relationship, but doubly so in one that involves sharing every part of ourselves with someone.
Intimacy is more than physical and sexual contact.
Intimacy is opening your heart to someone. Giving them your authentic self, and all of us have ugly mixed in with our good.
Love covers a multitude of sins.
And if our life partner doesn’t deserve our love — and hence the covering of their transgressions — why are they in that role at all?
If nothing else, do it for you
If keeping your relationship peaceful is not motivation enough, consider the ramifications for you as an individual, if you decide (yes, it’s a decision) to welcome your resentment as a treasured pet that you take out and massage to encourage its growth on a regular basis.
Refusing to extend forgiveness will often hurt you more than anyone else. Bitterness and resentment raise our stress levels, affecting our mental and physical health.
So, if your spouse did something that, in the grand scheme of things, can be seen as a small thing that hurt you today, remember that you have the power to release both of you from the pain of keeping that small offense present and festering in your relationship.
On my worst days, I sincerely hope my hubster extends me grace. That he makes the decision to remember who I am when I’m at my best, rather than my worst.
And if I hope to receive that from him, how could I allow myself to make the decision to extend him anything less?
Love is patient and kind.
Love never fails.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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