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The 3 Symptoms of Unforgiveness

April, 2008

By Paula Friedrichsen

1: A hard heart

Your spouse tells you they're depressed about work, and you think, Whatever... She tells you the doctor say her cholesterol is dangerously high, and you think, Whatever... He tells you he thinks he may be having a mental breakdown, and you think, *yawn* Whatever...

The inability for a marriage partner to care about what concerns their spouse is a screaming symptom that unforgiveness has caused their heart to grow cold.

But there's a Solution. Although you may be tempted to harden your heart toward your husband or wife because they repeatedly hurt your feelings, make an effort to stay in an attitude of forgiveness. Remind yourself that you love your spouse! You may not be feeling deeply loving toward them right now--but choose to make the decision to love and care about what concerns them, in spite of a lack of romantic feelings.

2: The silent treatment (also known as the "I'm not punishing him, I'm just not talking to him right now" treatment)

The silent treatment is usually an indicator that a husband or wife has a rap sheet of their spouses past offenses tucked in their hip pocket. In fact, their mate's behavior has so infuriated them, they have no words left. You could interrogate them for hours under a glaring spotlight in a dingy, smoke-filled room--they're not talking.

The Solution: Talk... up. In my twenty-three years of marriage my husband and I have seldom had major change without conflict. If you're in the habit of giving the silent treatment, begin today to humble yourself, open up, and communicate freely.

3: Expecting the worst

As another offense is committed, the husband or wife is almost glad because it's one more that can be added to an already long list. They'll pull that list out at an advantageous moment to use as proof of their spouses continual disregard for their feelings.

An attitude of unforgiveness will set us up to expect the worst in our husband or wife. And when we expect the worst, it's often exactly what we get. Expecting the worst can become like a well-traveled road--it's familiar, it's safe, and it protects us from being disappointed...again.

The solution lies in seeking God's perspective on your mate and "choosing" to search for the good in your husband or wife.

If you've found it difficult to forgive in the past--I have good news for you; today is a new beginning! Don't wait until you "feel" like forgiving; because frankly, you probably never will. Instead, decide to forgive. Why not start today?

© Paula Friedrichsen
Paula Friedrichsen is a conference speaker and the author of "The Man You Always Wanted is The One You Already Have" (Multnomah 2007). She lives with her husband and daughter in Northern California.


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