When I was a new at managing people, I asked someone who had been a long-time manager what his secret was to success. He told me to learn to observe everything, overlook a lot, and comment on a few. I think this can be good advice for marriage as well. (Click on the title to read the full post.)
In fact, Solomon, known as the wisest man who ever lived, captured it in Proverbs 17:9.
Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. (NIV)
Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends. (NLT)
He who covers a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates friends. (NKJV)
To me, this says that overlooking an offense is loving, but continually bringing it up will cause division in a relationship.
When a married couple is struggling, sometimes it is because one spouse can’t let go of the past. Just like the proverb predicts, it causes a gap (separation) in the relationship that grows wider the more that the past is revisited. In some cases, it may reveal a wound that still needs to be healed where the other spouse will need to own up to the offense, admitting wrong, and seeking forgiveness. Of course, to move on, the spouse holding onto the past will need to forgive the other spouse to move beyond the past. However, in many cases, it is simply that one spouse can’t seem to let it go. Holding onto it may be keeping that person in bondage, whereas not “dwelling” on or “repeating” it, would break the bond and allow love to flow again in the relationship.
It boils down to choice. You can choose to “foster love” by overlooking the offense or at least stop bringing it up, or you can keep doing what you’ve been doing and continue to have a barrier to a healthy marriage. If you want something different in your marriage, maybe it’s time to choose differently.
Note: Scripture verses are from the New International Version, unless otherwise indicated.