As Christians, we should look to Jesus Christ as our ultimate role model of how to forgive. Jesus forgives freely, yet also challenges us to grow because He wants the best for us. We can rely on Jesus’ help to forgive our spouses in any situation, while also praying for them to learn from their mistakes. Just as God’s unconditional forgiveness often motivates us to change for the better, the gift of forgiveness from you may motivate your spouse to change.

Perhaps prayer is an important part of making forgiveness work in marriage, paving the way for romance to re-ignite in the relationship. A 2013 Florida State University study revealed that people who pray for romantic partners who offend them are more likely than those who don’t pray for their partners to experience forgiveness and cooperation in their relationships – both qualities that can significantly increase romantic feelings.

Clearing the Way for Romance to Return

When you forgive your spouse, you clear the way for romance to return to your marriage if your spouse is willing to work on your marriage along with you. Here’s how you can restore romance in your marriage through forgiveness:

  • Leave it at the foot of the Cross. In prayer, imagine Jesus on the Cross, and approach Him carrying a transgression that has caused tension in your marriage. Then symbolically leave the transgression at the foot of the Cross, and tell Jesus that you’re entrusting it to Him to handle. This empowers both spouses to make exchanges necessary for God’s love to flow freely between you: The offending spouse trades condemnation for grace, and the offended spouse trades bitterness for peace. When God’s love is flowing freely in your marriage again, romance will naturally come from it.
     
  • Write notes. Communicating about forgiveness is often easier in writing than it is verbally, because the writing process helps you calmly reflect on what you really want to say, without getting distracted by your emotions as you can when you’re speaking extemporaneously. Also, expressing forgiveness and care in the form of a love note is romantic. Every time you and your spouse re-read each other’s loving words, romantic feelings can grow between you.
     
  • Get physical. Touch is a powerful way to express both forgiveness and romantic passion, because it communicates deep feelings in simple ways. Incorporate non-sexual, affectionate touch (such as hugs and holding hands) into your time together whenever possible. Gradually, as God heals both of you through the forgiveness process, the desire for sexual touch will return to your relationship.

Whitney Hopler, who has served as a Crosswalk.com contributing writer for many years, is author of the new Christian novel Dream Factory, which is set during Hollywood's golden age. Visit her website at: whitneyhopler.naiwe.com.

Publication date: October 7, 2013