He doesn’t wear his wedding ring any more, at least not after he caught her cheating. And she can’t look him in the eye, asking for his forgiveness of driving a wedge through their wedded bliss. It seems the road this couple is headed down is not a pleasant one, even though their divorce is finalized. As they meet in the counseling office, they shake hands, agreeing to cease the arguing and call a truce, at least for a moment.

Sound familiar? So many couples end their marriages like this because they have lost trust in their partner, but forgiveness is key if you have hope in getting back together. The first step in forgiving one another is to find a mediator that can help guide the conversation. It’s not their job to ‘point the finger,’ but rather allow you to express the feelings that are buried deeper than a treasure chest. It’s important you get honesty back on track until you can move forward.

Then, you have to hold yourself accountable. If it’s your fault that the marriage ended, own it. Tell your partner that you will never betray him or her in such a dishonorable way. Admitting your faults is one of the first steps to healing and ultimately—this is one of the first steps to reconciliation. If you want a future with this individual ever again, you’re going to have to get the good, bad and ugly out into the clear air. Even if you don’t like what they are telling you, own it.

You may also want to sit close to them, looking them in the eyes. Think about what first made you fall in love with them. That quality is still in there, buried under this confusion and this anger. Do your best to bring it out. If it’s cooking her a homemade Italian dinner with scattered rose petals throughout the house, do it. You may be on the outskirts, but she deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

As you go through counseling, it may be beneficial to try this exercise. Take their hands in yours, closing your eyes. Imagine your future; not the far off future, but the immediate future. Are they there? If so, then you should reconcile and not end this union that God has put together. Find it in your heart to express your forgiveness, giving them a second chance. It may seem cliche, but marriage is like being a soldier; you fight the battle until it’s won.

Finally, make sure your partner doesn’t feel isolated. This happens so frequently because of the I and me syndromes. If you look to your marriage as a team, then separation won’t be on the table. When I got married, someone gave me great advice: Stay up and fight. This is your life we’re talking about. If you want to reconcile, you’re going to have to work through differences, and that isn’t always easy. Just don’t ever give up; fight to the end.

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