Something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately has been conflict resolution. What does it really mean to “resolve” something? A long time ago, I was taught that it ended with both of us saying, “I’m sorry” and then both of us saying, “I forgive you” during the course of a conversation. But I have found out (much to my chagrin) that this just doesn’t quite cut it.

This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.
Matthew 18:35

According to Jesus, we should forgive each other from the heart. His words imply that there is a kind of forgiveness that isn’t quite from the heart – a verbal forgiveness or an intellectual forgiveness, but not a heart-felt forgiveness. We can do that in marriage and put our relationship in harm’s way.

A little while back, my wife, Antonette, and I got into a spat about something. We argued, hurt each others’ feelings, and then resolved with an exchange of “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you.” We should have been resolved, but I didn’t feel any closer to her. In fact, when we went to bed, I turned facing away from her, a bad sign in our marriage book. As I reflected, I realized that I had been doing this a lot over the past several years. One wise married man told me, “When you really resolve things, you should feel like you want to show affection to each other.” Based on that one simple criterion, we were not resolving very often at all! We learned a valuable lesson, and we set out to really change things.

  • Is there anything you haven’t quite forgiven your spouse for – from the heart?
  • Anything that still rubs you the wrong way, hurts your feelings or makes you sad?

Dig deep, bring it up, seek help with it, and be willing to hash it out until it’s really resolved. When you feel more affectionate towards each other, you know things are going in the right direction.

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