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How To Kill Joy in a Christian Marriage: Refuse to Forgive

I (Sue Creekmore) have a beautiful black Labrador dog, Lucy.  She is seven years old and a great dog.  Lucy loves to walk with me each morning and she gives me a sense of protection…well, not too much protection 😊.  Lucy has never met a stranger.  Her favorite pastimes are to play fetch and swim in our pool.  When you combine her two loves—she enters doggie NIRVANA.

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If you ever pitch that yellow tennis ball into her pool- it is on!  Lucy is the epitome of happy.  She is beautiful in the air, sailing into the pool, catching the ball and effortless swimming back to the stairs.  Lucy loves to play fetch in the pool.

But there is a problem with all this dog happiness.  Lucy will refuse to stop.

She will continue for hours if allowed.  She will bring the ball back to anyone on the pool deck that has a hand or any means to throw that ball.  When she has fetched 100 times in an afternoon, everyone who sees her knows the truth – “Lucy needs a rest!”  Everyone, but Lucy.

Have you ever met people like Lucy?  Me too…

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We will hide the ball and she will find another one from her secret stash in the yard.  Then finally after every ball has been confiscated, she will point to our ball hiding place and moan/whine/cry and pout.  For hours.  She Wants That Ball And She Wants To Play Fetch! She is obsessed.  When she was younger she would play fetch for over 4 hours, with no signs of quitting.  Her tenacity is intense as is her dedication to the sport of fetch 😊!

I see this same kind of tenacity in a Christian Marriage when we refuse to forgive.

Especially if one of the partners doesn’t feel heard or has been wronged badly by their spouse.  During our marriage classes or marriage retreats, Jody, my husband, and I will hear a couple bring up an issue, appear to talk through to a resolution and then 10 minutes later, they will bring it back up again.  They, usually the wife, sorry sisters, but truth is truth, will bring the same grievance up over and over again.  Exhausting.

The Best Sign of Unforgiveness in a Christian Marriage

This marginalized spouse will bring the grievance up to anyone with ears, hoping for someone to validate their feelings and enter into the conversation.  I have to some degree been “Lucy-ish” myself, but to my husband’s relief, I lack Lucy’s dedication.

There was one couple that for years, every time we saw them or got together-there was only one topic the wife wanted to talk about- didn’t matter the place, the time or who was present.  At the time I was a newlywed and had no wisdom to impart. I just listened and tried to change the topic.  I really liked this person as a friend, but it was tiring.

Finally, after she had unintentionally alienated many in our circle, I called her out.

I barked- “GIVE IT A REST, it’s a beautiful day- LET’S REJOICE!”

I’m sure her husband mentally applauded me but he didn’t dare chime in- or he would have banished to the proverbial DOGHOUSE 😊!  She looked shocked, pouted for a bit, but eventually joined back in the party!  Whew!

Looking back at this situation, I realize the real problem my friend couldn’t get past was unforgiveness.

She needed to forgive her husband for a sin committed 5 years earlier.  Forgiveness is not easy but when we refuse it we kill any joy that was in our Marriage.

What happens when we refuse to Forgive?

The unwillingness to forgive is a bitter bone, that as you chew, it gets more and more delicious.  You don’t want to drop it- you obsess over it.  It consumes you.  It becomes enjoyable, in a weird self-serving way.  You will find a way to work it into every conversation.  Ugh.

Living in the state of unforgiveness stunts your spiritual growth and eventually, sister, it will isolate you and rob you of your joy!  This is definitely Satan’s sneaky plan.  Satan wants to separate us from other believers who will speak the truth to us.  Satan wants us to dwell in sadness and self-pity, so he can devour us!

1 Peter 5:8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert.  Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

The Forgiveness Check:

If you don’t think this is an issue in your life- good for you.

If you want to confirm it is not an issue in your life- ask your spouse or a truthful sister in Christ.

Or mentally review the last 10 arguments you and your spouse had.  Did you bring up the same grievance from the past in each of those arguments?  That is the BALL.  That is the thing that still needs forgiveness.

Don’t waste another minute, stop right now and pray and ask God to help you forgive your spouse.  Allow God to heal this wound (Romans 8:2).  When we Forgive it releases Joy in a Christian Marriage

Then, it is time to rest and rejoice in the freedom you now feel!  Amen!  (Galatians 5:1)

What happens when you just can’t Forgive? 

It may be time to dig deeper to save your Marriage.  Dig deeper into the Word to find out how to do things differently.  Check out the Full Marriage Course (Finding Hope and Joy in my Marriage) in the HopeJoyInChrist Shop!

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Do you need some encouragement to keep pressing into that Daily Commitment?  

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Sue Creekmore

Hi!  I’m Sue!  I blog at!  The goal of my blog is to strengthen marriages through the power of the gospel.  A little about me, I have been married for 32 years, happily for a little more than  31 😊!  My husband Jody and I got married right after college.  Through the help of the Army, we have lived in 10 different homes across the USA and Germany.  We have three grown married adult children, who are all chasing after Jesus.  And we have four beautiful grandchildren, with two more on the way this year!  Jody and I have faithfully served God together for decades and consider it a privilege to work with marriages in our church and community!   We love each other, love our family, love the body of Christ well and pack a lot into each and everyday!  

4 thoughts to “How To Kill Joy in a Christian Marriage: Refuse to Forgive”

  1. Forgiveness is so important and an area that I am often having to work through my marriage clients. It can be a matter of not realizing you haven’t forgiven as well as needing to actively choose to forgive over and over.

  2. When the wound is still there, and the woman has already asked God to help her forgive and has done everything she can, the people around her point their crooked finger at her and tell her she’s sinning to still be in agony. God is the one who supernaturally works in our hearts to release us from the hurt (and I’ve experienced it), but it’s hard to me to convey to someone else how to actually forgive so that the pain is no longer incapacitating the woman who wants to please God and is not purposely sinning.

    1. so true Susan. It looks different for all of us and is so hard to see from the outside. I love that God sees our heart and knows our intentions. And when we press into Him He helps us walk in forgiveness and find freedom!

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