“Mutually Reconnect With and Forgive Your Spouse After Conflict”
When it comes to marriage, how you end a fight is just as important as how you avoid one because disagreements are inevitable. When you and your mate experience hurt feelings and conflict, it is vitally important to both signal the forgiveness that God commands of us and the acceptance of being forgiven. One of the most effective ways to do that is to share a private signal that says “We’re okay.”
So many of the happy couples I interviewed said they had their own secret language to say “I’m sorry” and “we’re OK.” One reason many couples went from troubled to strong in their relationship was this habit of mutual reconnection after hurt feelings. These signals don’t necessarily mean the problem itself has been resolved, but they let both spouses know that in spite of the problem, the relationship is okay.
What were these signals? They ranged from a basic statement (“are we okay?” “yeah, we’re okay”) all the way to silly little private-language elements that would only make sense to them. Some husbands and wives touched pinkie fingers, some had a funny phrase they shared to make the other person crack up, some had great make-up sex, but almost all of them had their own way of reassuring each other that they were choosing to get over their hard feelings, and their relationship was still strong.
Does “moving on” without making up have the same effect? Well… 70 percent of the happy couples sent these signals, where only 22 percent of the so-so or struggling couples did. It makes a difference.
It also makes a difference if we are willing to receive a signal, not just initiate it – which is why mutual signals are so important. There’s a great example in Genesis 32-33 when Jacob realizes that he has deeply cheated and offended his brother. Using a cultural signal his brother would instantly ‘get’, he sends before him a very generous gift to show he is reaching out for reconciliation. Esau is overjoyed and gladly accepts his offering. Both people know “we’re okay.”
Do you sometimes find yourself struggling to not hold on to your hard feelings? To ask for forgiveness? To accept it? If we want to be happy in our marriages, we need to be willing to give the “all clear” signal and be willing to accept it. When it comes to marriage, things are definitely not better left unsaid.
Dear Lord, please help me to be willing to reach out for forgiveness when I have hurt my spouse. When we’re in a state of conflict, help me remember how important it is to mutually reconnect and let my spouse know that things are still okay between us. Remind me constantly of your grace and love that allows me to forgive just as You have forgiven me. Amen