If you’ve ever blown it big time in your marriage, these might sound familiar to you: “It’s just not fair. I told her I’m sorry, and I asked her to forgive me, but she just won’t.” “How long will I have to pay for my crimes? All that stuff was in the past, and I can’t change it.” “I told her I’m sorry, but she keeps bringing up the past. What more can I do?”
Unfortunately, I can relate. And there’s good news and bad news. First, the bad news: Although God may have forgiven us for our sins, He doesn’t release us from the consequences of them. But the good news is there is hope, and there are things you can do in addition to asking for forgiveness. Here are 5 simple things you can do when your wife won’t forgive you.
First, work on you—not the marriage.
It’s true that you can’t change something you said or did, but you can start looking at what you need to do to prevent a repeat performance. That’s really what most women who’ve been hurt are afraid of and why they struggle to forgive. Because if she forgives you, she may think she’s letting you off the hook and setting herself up for more pain in the future. Do these 3 things to show her you’re serious about working on yourself:
- Get serious about your relationship with God.
- Get involved in a community of men who are trying to be better husbands.
- Get professional help from a counselor or coach to uncover and work on your weaknesses.
Second, pray for her.
It may not seem like a lot, but what you can’t do in your own strength, you can ask God to do in His as He works on your wife’s heart. Pray for her emotional healing, the softening of her heart, and most importantly, for you to gain a better understanding of her and the pain you’ve caused.
Third, keep asking her for mercy.
Asking your wife to forgive you is one thing, but asking her to have mercy on you is an entirely different request. Asking for forgiveness comes from acknowledging your wrong and expressing remorse. However, a request for mercy demonstrates humility, brokenness, and contrition. You’re not only admitting your guilt but also asking for clemency—for her not to give you what you rightfully deserve as a punishment.
Fourth, accept the consequences.
When I was in the midst of trying to save a 16-year marriage I had destroyed because of my infidelity, I often repeated this mantra to myself whenever I asked my ex-wife for forgiveness:
“I can only make requests. I have no rights, because I walk by faith, and not by sight. And if my requests from my wife are denied, then God, I must seek Your face. Anything granted to me, it’s by your grace.”
Even in my earnest efforts, I had to learn to accept what I couldn’t change and focus on the only thing I could change: myself.
Finally, rinse and repeat.
These suggestions are not things you can do in a vacuum; you should do them repeatedly. Even though your wife’s heart may not change, your heart will definitely change if you do these things consistently.
Sound off: Has anyone ever had a difficult time forgiving you? What did you do to help reconcile the situation?