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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Painter

Building a Marriage with Forbearance

“Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” (Colossians 3:13)

When two people join in Holy matrimony it is inevitable that at some point their imperfection will show. When a man and a woman court each other they have only eyes for the good that shines in their future mate, but once the marriage is made the clouds of fault begin to roll in and will eventually cause friction between the husband and wife. All the sudden, the visions of a perfect home and glorious everlasting harmony are gone and reality sets in, you have married a human, and they are not perfect.

This is where forbearance becomes a must in the spouse’s relationship with each other. The word forbear means to be patient; to restrain from action or violence. Forbearance keeps us from being reactive to the faults that annoy us in our spouse. While forbearance sounds like an easy thing to do in theory, it is hard to implement in practice.

The basis of forbearance is love. “With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;” (Ephesians 4:2) Without love we will find that forbearance is impossible. However, our love for our spouse should drive us to be patient with them, even when we feel they are failing. The ability to forbear with our spouse stems from three separate traits that combine to cause us to forbear. They are listed in Ephesians 4:2, “With all LOWLINESS and MEEKNESS, with LONGSUFFERING…” Therefore, for us to understand how to forbear with our spouse we must understand these three traits and develop them in our own lives.

I. LOWLINESS – Freedom from pride, humility. Forbearance and pride cannot coexist. Pride is the very opposite of forbearance. Pride causes our annoyances or offenses to be magnified in our own minds which then causes us to react in frustration rather than exercising forbearance.

II. MEEKNESS – Softness of temper. Here we are getting to the root of forbearance, for the very essence of forbearance is to control one’s emotions. Ill-temper leads to trouble. It does damage to the marriage relationship when one spouse or the other cannot control themselves.

III. LONGSUFFERING – to bear injuries or provocation for a long time with patience. Here is the most difficult aspect of true forbearance. It can be easy to pass over annoyances once or twice, but to do so consistently over a long period of time is very difficult to do. In a marriage you will absolutely have times that you feel hurt by something your spouse says or does. However longsuffering demands that we do not bear a grudge or play the victim or lash out in reaction. This is where communication comes into play. Talk through the offense peacefully. Some think this is a pipedream. It is only such to those who give up on the ability to forbear with their spouse.

The end goal of forbearance is peace. “With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:2-3) In a marriage forbearance will bring a unity, and a bond of peace. When you are living in such a unity and bond of peace you will find that there is a new way to do business with your spouse. “By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone.” (Proverbs 25:15) Forbearance will make you better equip you to be persuasive with your spouse enabling you to make decisions that you agree upon.

Forbearance will also enable you to defuse tense situations that may arise between you and your spouse.“A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” Proverbs 15:1 Sarcasm and insults will get you nowhere, but a soft answer may bring back the peace we all desire in our homes.

When we learn to forbear with our spouse it builds our marriage to a whole new level of unity and peace.

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