No, it’s not “I love you”, although she wants to hear those words, too. She probably suspects that you do love her. What she really wants to hear is:“I was wrong. I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?”Yes, he wants to hear that from her too, but for some reason it often seems harder for him to utter those words. So what gets in the way of being ready to admit wrongdoing?
When I get caught in some misstep, I really want to move past it as fast as possible. But somehow I think that if I ignore it, it will just go away. But it never does. It just hangs there until I’m willing to deal with it. Or worse, it registers as another wound in my wife that goes unhealed. Unhealed wounds can turn into resentments – and those can be really destructive to a relationship over time.
Oftentimes, I am not aware that I have hurt my wife’s feelings, but fortunately for me she will come to me to point it out – nicely. My first reaction, I’m ashamed to admit, is usually defensive. If I am really on top of things, the defensiveness remains in my head and doesn’t come out of my mouth. With effort I am able to listen and respond with apologies for the perceived offense. I say perceived because most of the time I do not intentionally hurt my wife. But that does not mean I did not say something that was hurtful to her, intentional or not.
When I push my pride aside and am able to respond with care (empathy) for her, I am fulfilling the role that Christ has given to me, to lay my life down for her (Eph. 5:25.) I am being her spiritual covering – not allowing resentments to build up in her, which can lead to sin.The Bible is clear that if anyone has an offense against us, we are to go to him or her and try to make it right (Matt. 5:23-24.)
It’s a gift, when my wife will come to me to help me set things right – even if it doesn’t feel like it at the moment.Couples that are good at giving and receiving forgiveness usually have resilience in their relationship that sustains them through all kinds of storms of life. It’s not easy, but the rewards are great.Be gentle with one another, sensitive.
By the way, this doesn’t only work in couple relationships — this works with anyone!
Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. (Eph 4:32)