How to Be a Kind, Tenderhearted, and Forgiving Wife

How to Be a Kind, Tenderhearted, and Forgiving Wife

Written by Ken and me

Jesus taught a parable in Mathew 18 of a king who called to reckon his servant who owed him an enormous debt of perhaps up to a million dollars in today’s currency. The king commanded him, his wife, children, and everything he had to be sold. The servant threw himself at the feet of his lord and pled for patience and mercy and the king heard his cries, was moved with compassion, and forgave him for all of his debt. But this servant, instead of showing the same grace and mercy extended to him by the king, took his fellow servant by the throat and demanded that he repay the paltry equivalent of five dollars owed to him. In spite of the fellow servant’s pleas for patience and mercy, the one forgiven by the king sent him to prison until he could repay every cent.

You and I who are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have thrown ourselves at the feet of our King Jesus and begged Him to forgive us our unrepayable debt. Any one sin separates us from God forever; for a holy God is incapable of receiving a sinner at His throne. Doomed and despairing, we pled for mercy and claimed the blood of Christ on our hearts and souls; the blood of the perfect Lamb shed for the sins of the whole world. And God heard our cries, picked us up, and stood us on our feet proclaiming that all our debts were forgiven as He made us brand new creatures in Christ.

Now consider, Christian, your present status in life having been forgiven your enormous debt (ALL of your sins). Does your heart race with thankfulness and joy? Does grace and mercy follow after you, and in turn, do you extend it fully to others all of the days of your life? Or are you refusing to forgive the small debts of others? Do you carry a root of bitterness or anger which are clear signs that you are not forgiving others? Think again just for a moment of the enormity of the debt you owed (your life) and how wide the chasm is between sinful man and a holy Creator God. Think about the bridge God provided for us by giving up His only begotten Son to die a merciless death at the hands of mankind; and then in comparison how small any other debt owed to us must be.

What are you holding against your spouse today? Are you considering divorce? Has he harmed you greatly in some way that you feel you can never forgive him completely again? What about your friend today who has been unkind to you; your fellow worker, your sister, your cousin, your aunt, or your mother-in-law? Which one of these people do you want to hold by the throat and demand that they repay what they owe you as you build up a revenge account filled with unkindness, unloving, bitterness, and unforgiveness? The debts owed you may seem so big, yet in comparison to the great debt forgiven you by your King Jesus, it is not even five dollars.

What is it about us that we feel the need to set straight those who sin against us? I know you are thinking, “I can forgive them with my head, but I need to teach them a lesson. After all, how is my spouse ever going to treat me well, respect me, and love me, if I don’t every once in a while grab him by the neck with my words, moods, and difficult behaviors to put him in his place.” We think this is our job to set others straight, but it is not.

Did God win us by setting us straight or by His immense grace and love? Did He exact from us a certain amount of discipline and punishment before he showered mercy upon us, or did He forgive us freely for everything the moment we believed? God won us over by His great kindness, mercy, and love! God’s Word says,

“Or despise thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leads thee to repentance” (Romans 2:4)

The next time you feel the urge to set another person straight, first consider your own plight of hopelessness before a God who has greatly forgiven you, and then going far beyond this mercy to lovingly adopt you into His own family. He bestowed on you and me all of the riches in Christ Jesus for the eternities to come. It is this Good News, the Gospel, that changes lives. The measure of the degree to which we understand what Christ has done for us is judged by our relationships with others, especially that of our spouse. It’s our responsibility and privilege that we, through Christ Jesus, can forgive all offenses done against us, just as Christ has forgiven us. For when we do so, we are not only showing our love and appreciation for what He has done, but we are allowing His life to flow in and through us.

Someone today will be reading this and is considering how they will respond to the hurt, pain, or disrespect inflicted upon them. Maybe it’s just the extra burdens that their spouse has placed upon them by their carelessness or neglect. Maybe they are in an ongoing fight over something that happened long ago and both sides are playing the game of justifying themselves, while at the same time treating the other with malice and distain. How can unchristian thoughts and actions ever be justified for the Christian?

Of course, all in “righteous anger” and with a purpose to “teach” the other a lesson so that they can mature and grow up into Christ, right? Well, it’s all wrong when we take it upon ourselves to punish another in light of the great punishment God has taken away from us. The Gospel only wins and shows itself out when we display the never-ending love and forgiveness of God. And it loses big time when we fail to forgive and allow a root of bitterness to spring up in us that wreaks havoc on so many lives, most of all our own. We must remember that forgiving is living out the Gospel in our lives.

Christian marriages should be the happiest in the world! We are to be the model of Christ and His Church. Others should be able to look at our marriages, especially the youth of today, and say, “I want to get married because I want a marriage just like that!” Nations are built upon strong marriages that create strong families. You must not allow all the little annoyances and sins against you by your husband to bother you. Forgive him freely. Don’t always feel that you need to set him straight. Your love and kindness will go a lot farther in drawing him to be changed by God than any words or sour moods you could give him (1 Peter 3:1, 2).

Accept others the way they are and forgive them freely. Let God be the One who convicts and changes the people around you. And the next time you get the urge to retaliate or set someone straight, ask yourself if the debt owed to you is truly as enormous as your own, or is it just five little dollars. “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much” (Luke 7:47). Are you indeed greatly forgiven? If so, let your love shine brightly with joy and forgiveness in your marriage and relationships beginning this day onward to show the enormity of the love you have for God.

If your marriage is not shining God’s love daily, then it is not a Christian marriage. Far too many marriages are made up of two Christians, but do not reflect the glory and love of the Lord. It begins with you doing your part no matter what, that all things done in your home will be according to the Word and the Spirit who lives inside of you. Only then can God bless you above all you could ask or think. Many each year are telling us that they are choosing to do things God’s ways and are reaping His blessings. Will you join us by doing this simple thing of always keeping your great debt in mind and the forgiveness God wants you to extend to others?

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
Ephesians 4:31, 32

16 thoughts on “How to Be a Kind, Tenderhearted, and Forgiving Wife

  1. Such wise and good words! I’d love some advice Lori. My father keeps overstepping his bounds (in my opinion). My husband and I made a decision to worship at home or with family when we visit with them because our congregation went sideways. My father believes we should stay with that church. Right now there are no other options in our current town. He lectures (one-side’s if I hold my tongue) or argues (if I don’t) every time I see him. I’ve told him that he should speak with my husband and God if he wants us to do differently as I’m not going against my husband. He did/does but still won’t let it go with me. I’ve missed a funeral, family reunion and just visiting with him recently to avoid him. He believes I hate him and is the victim of being dishonored as my father (my mother told me this). My mother can’t help as he won’t listen to her and it will only divide them.

    I love my father and enjoy being around him when he isn’t pushing for his way or arguing . (His family is VERY contentious so there is always something). I think it would be terrible for him to die and this be left like this because it is such a stupid reason to be separated. He was a good father to me while I was growing up. I don’t want to have him by the throat as you mentioned in your post today but I don’t know how to resolve it. I asked my husband but he is fine not dealing with my father at all and is over the whole situation therefore hasn’t given me advice one way or the other.

    I cannot bring in an arbitrator as he would be humiliated. (My mother has confirmed this). Please help me.

    1. You need to tell him that you are under your husband’s leadership now and that God commands that you submit to him not your father. Ask him to never bring it up again. Pray that he doesn’t!

        1. M, thank you for your comment. My heart went straight to a similar situation I have had with my parents and siblings over the last two years. I have been estranged from them because of boundaries that my husband and I drew which they did not respond well to. They accuse me of unforgiveness, and it is a horrible thing to be accused of because I do love them so much and have always been quick to forgive, including this time.

          Time and again over the two year span, there were hints of reconciliation, then they would come in with another demand that my husband and I could not meet. Demands that would make us compromise our commitment to the Lord and to our children to raise them up in Him. In the end, we have been characterized as ‘unforgiving’ and ‘bitter’ by family members. It is said of us that we ‘hate family’ and that we have isolated ourselves from everyone. We have been told that we do not show the love of Jesus. These are atrocious accusations and I do not wish for any believer to be on the receiving end of this type of treatment.

          But I have looked back during this time of reflection and seen that this type of manipulation did not start after I was married. It goes way back to when I was much younger and I now recognize patterns of manipulation in my life that became the norm for me. I hadn’t realized how much control my family had over my emotions, and how much anxiety was caused by their disappointed expectations of me. I don’t blame my sins or mistakes on them, because I am solely responsible for my choices in life. But I do see how many times, I did what was wrong in the sight of the Lord in order to please them or appease them. We cannot please God AND man.

          My husband and I finally had to decide to protect our two young boys from this type of influence and environment, and so I went from very low contact to becoming estranged from them because every conversation became very strained and difficult. It has been difficult to not see or talk to them, but I have never had so much peace in my home as I have today. My marriage is better and my children have a mother who is emotionally available to them all the time. I didn’t realize how much their influence was destroying my relationship with my husband. Instead of submitting to his God-fearing leadership, I was trying to mold him into their worldly ways for so many years. It wasn’t until the 7th year of our marriage (our 7th anniversary to the date!) where they really overstepped, and decisions had to be made. This was the day that everything started coming together for my marriage, and everything began to fall apart with my birth family. I had to lay the title of daughter and sister down before the Lord, and focus on the work immediately before me: that of being a wife and mother.

          I struggle with feelings of guilt, but I have no bitterness against them at all. I have come to understand that they do not support my marriage or choice to live in God’s ways. Anyone who doesn’t support either of those things in your life is not someone who deserves to be a major part of your life.

          I hope this encourages someone. Family estrangement is not something many Christians talk about, and I know it’s looked down upon by many. But our homes come first. Anything that comes in the way of our roles as wife and mother is not of the Lord.

          1. Nettie. Please except a virtual hug from me. I am so sorry for your situation. I wish none of us had this kind of dissension in our families. It is terrible and unnecessary. I always recognize that horrible things happen in life that are beyond human control but these interpersonal relationships should not be among them, yet here we are. 😔

          2. Nettie, I can totally relate to your situation. Shortly after I got married my family turned on me in a way that is unimaginable. Today I don’t harbor any ill will towards my birth family but I simply must work for peace in my home and what is best for my children, husband, and myself.
            Jesus said we must prepare to loose family and that members of our household would be our enemies.
            It was hard to accept that I didn’t have support from people who knew me my whole life. But their actions showed me they don’t respect me and I must leave my relationship with them completely. Their labels of me has bitter and unforgiving have no meaning to me because I realize they are blind to my experience.
            I believe everything will be renewed in the next life.

    2. I have a similar relationship with my wife’s family. Her mother is contentious and demanding. At one point I had to tell her that “She is my wife before she is your daughter.”

      And that’s true of other relationships, too. As a married woman, you are his wife before any other thing. You are his wife even before you are your own children’s mother.

      They will “leave mother and father and marry”, but you and your husband, or a husband and his wife, are the only two permanent participants that will be in the marriage until the end of their lives.

      That is why it is good to learn how to live with each other before anything and anybody else.

      1. Thanks Robert. I am so thankful God gave me good parents but He also gave me a husband and I am thankful to be under my husband’s leadership. One would think after 20 + years it wouldn’t be such an issue.

  2. This is exactly the article I needed today. I had a very unchristian attitude toward my husband yesterday and went to bed and woke up feeling incredibly guilty. Instead of being upset, he woke up with a very tender heart toward me that I did not deserve.

    I am in the process of learning how to submit to him, while also encouraging him to lead our family. Neither of us grew up in a home that taught us to do this, even though we both knew it was the right way. Your blog is really helping me lately. So, thank you.

  3. There is an article on my blog that I started years ago, but just could not seem to find the words to express what I wanted to say. I could “feel” it, but I couldn’t put it into words. I called it “Beating the Servants“, and the gist of it was “we can’t be forgiven and then turn around and mistreat others by requiring more of them than we ourselves have paid.”

    I think this article of yours just summed up everything that I was thinking. Thank you.

  4. I needed to read this today. Thanks for posting. Have you ever considered making a podcast? I think you’d be able to reach a lot of us younger women through that medium.

  5. It is so hard to forgive our spouses sometimes when we are deeply hurt. My husband has been refusing to let us have more children (despite the fact that he thinks I’m doing a wonderful job as a mother and he is a wonderful provider, no marriage/personal/ health issues, etc ). I want to forgive him, but I just feel so unloved

    1. Your husband’s decision isn’t because he does’t love you! Give it to the Lord and ask Him to change your husband’s mind but in the meantime be a godly, submissive wife to him.

  6. Thank you both so much for this post(.It pricked my heart, brought me to tears and on my knees.
    Such wisdom only comes from above…The statues of the Lord are right and do rejoice the heart,the Lords commandment is most pure and makes the simple wise((as we used to sing it in high school) Psalm 19 verse 1 to 14).May the Lord bless you and the work you are doing.

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