I really have enjoyed reading Dr. Chapman’s The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted. I want to talk about one more concept that he highlighted and then I want you to read the book for yourself. You can do what my hubby and I do sometimes and read it to each other.
In Chapter 2, he talks about having a Clear Conscience, and that after accepting God’s forgiveness, it is an important “step toward a growing, God-honoring marriage.” He quotes the apostle Paul’s statement in Acts 24:16:
“So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.”
Dr. Chapman notes that this is an “important principle of mental health and, consequently, of marital health.” It’s not that Paul thought he did no wrong, but he kept his sin confessed so that he could have a clear conscience before God and also before other people. “We empty our conscience toward God when we confess our sins. We empty our conscience toward a spouse when we go to him or her and confess our failures,” says Dr. Chapman.
Dr. Chapman suggests you try this (after a good meal): “You can say to him or her…'Honey, God has dealt with me today, and I now realize that I have been wrong in so many things. I have confessed them to God and want to ask your forgiveness. I have been very selfish in demanding that you_____. I have not been very kind in_____. I have failed in meeting your needs for_____. And I want to ask, will you forgive me?’ Be as specific with your mate as you have been with God. Give him or her a chance to respond.”
“But what if my husband is stubborn and won’t forgive me” or “what if my wife doesn’t believe I’m really sorry, what do I do then?”
Glad you asked. I agree with Dr. Chapman, “That is his [or her] problem and not yours. Your responsibility is to admit the wrong you carry and ask forgiveness. Your mate’s responsibility is not your responsibility. You have done what you can by dealing with your wrong. You have not done what you can until you have dealt with your own offenses. You see, you cannot confess your partner’s sin, but you can deal with your 5 percent.” That releases us to only worry about our own part and to do what’s right even if our spouse does not.
So what is the risk in taking this step? I really don’t like being vulnerable. What if my spouse doesn’t respond positively? Dr. Chapman suggests to “not worry about your spouse’s reaction to your confession. Do not think he should fall on his knees and confess his own wrong. He may, and if so, great! You will have a tender evening. But negative feelings may not capitulate that easily. Personal pride stands as a hurdle for all of us. Allow time for God’s work in your mate. When you have confessed your wrong and emptied your conscience toward God and your partner, you have done the greatest thing you can do for your mate. He may not respond in like manner, but you have made it easier for him to admit wrong.”
And that’s all we can do.
Please leave a comment and share with us how you did with this.
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