Forgiveness,  Guest Blogger,  Marriage

What Am I To Do When My Spouse Does Not Seek Forgiveness?

Matthew L. Jacobson is here today with part 2 on The Chain of Unforgiveness

Forgiving and being forgiven . . . it touches a nerve, doesn’t it – maybe especially with spouses? The fact is that you have given those who are closest to you the power to hurt you the most. When we give our trust to the one we love, we’re giving him/her something that can be instantly turned into a weapon.

Many have felt the bitter, stabbing pain of betrayed trust. It was a recurring theme in the comments that followed the article on the chain on unforgiveness, published a couple of days ago here: The Chain of Unforgiveness Isn’t Worth the Price You Pay

Here are a few responses regarding the universal themes that emerged.

From Anonymous:

I believe I have forgiven my husband for being emotionally unfaithful to me. I want to move on and begin anew. But since he still works with the other woman, every time he speaks of her I relive the pain. I want to trust him when he tells me he is guarded and has set the boundaries now. But she continues to pursue him. So I can’t just forget the hurt, because I am still living it. How do I let it go?

Matthew L. Jacobson: 

That you would feel vulnerable is perfectly logical and understandable. Lisa would want me to make it crystal-clear to the “other woman” that she is completely wasting her time and is making herself ridiculous. If your husband were in fellowship with me, I would tell him this, directly. If he has to hurt the feelings of the co-worker to stop her advances, too bad. It must be done. If, however, this is merely a situation in which you need to “let it go,” then get Jesus involved. Every time (literally every time) a fearful thought enters your head, say, out loud, “I take this thought captive to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.” Those fearful thoughts have no right to enter your mind. Take them captive by turning your thoughts to Jesus, who has not given us the spirit of fear but of love, of power, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7


There comes a time when you just can’t take it and forgive anymore!!!!!

Matthew L. Jacobson: 

Where there is an unrepentant spouse who will not turn away from his/her sin, then accountability means a break in fellowship but, God will still give the wounded party grace to say “no” to bitterness. Cry out to God that, even in your place of deep pain, He will give you the grace to rob your enemy, Satan, of his goal of making you another victim of bitterness.


What about the sin that keeps recurring? What am I to do when my spouse does not seek forgiveness? It is immensely painful to forgive when I know it will happen again. It digs deep, has broken trust at all levels. We talk “Forgive as Christ forgave you.” YES! I fully believe and want to live that in all areas, especially in my family. But no one talks about how difficult it is, it’s always been: FORGIVE. Period. What about healing? What about rebuilding trust? What if they don’t seek forgiveness and don’t turn from their sin? What about the gut wrenching pain of trust completely betrayed? I would love to quickly forgive…oh my how heart yearns for the healing that comes with forgiveness. But I had gotten to that point..took a long time, but I got to where I could say “I forgive” and truly meant it. Little did I know, that the act that needed forgiving was still continuing. Forgiveness is not simple. It’s not easy. Only by God’s grace is it possible… oh Lord, praise be your Name.

Matthew L. Jacobson: 

When did Jesus forgive you? Before, or after you repented? If you are to forgive as Christ forgave you, it will follow your spouse’s repentance. You can walk in love with a posture of forgiveness and refuse to enter into bitterness because of the pain caused by someone else’s sin – but to fully forgive, (which includes entering back into open fellowship), true repentance is necessary. For the person who won’t repent or seek forgiveness – of course, this person cannot and should not be trusted. No man claiming to be a Christian should be allowed to lead a private life and continue to dishonor Christ, his wife, and himself without consequences. A biblical Church Body would hold such a man to account. I encourage everyone to be involved in a local Church that loves people this much.


Hi Matthew, we’ve spoken before about “my situation” and continue to struggle with the very issue you’ve addressed here… things are still very raw for me so perhaps I just need more time to release the pain and anger against my husband. I know that forgiving him won’t do anything to change his behavior or his decision to end our 37-year marriage… I know I’d be doing it for me — and because it’s what God expects me to do. I hope to get there eventually…

Matthew L. Jacobson: 

What you are talking about is supernatural – getting to a place of freedom from the chain of bitterness after having been so wrongly treated. But, God specializes in the supernatural. His grace is sufficient for you – even in your deepest distress. I am praying, right now, you will allow Him to fill you with His grace.


Matthew, this hit home. Thank you so much for reminding me that we are all in need of true forgiveness. And we need to forget those grievances.

Matthew L. Jacobson: 

Walking away from our grievances is so much easier after we’ve come face-to-face with our own sin and how much we’ve been forgiven. God bless you and your husband as you seek to walk in the oneness every couple was designed to enjoy. I’d be happy to answer any other questions you may have as you seek to find, or give, the forgiveness that is your only path to wholeness and peace.


Matthew Jacobson has been in the book publishing industry for 22 years and is currently the president of Loyal Arts Literary Agency. For the last 10 years, he’s served as a teaching elder in his local Church. Matt and his beautiful bride of 21 years, Lisa, raise their 8 children in the Pacific NW. You can join him at his blog by clicking here: or find Matthew on facebook.

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