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The Game-Changing Forgiveness Question

A friend of ours named David used to have a one-on-one session with each of his three boys beginning when they were just preschoolers.  He would call them into a room, get down on one knee and have them sit on his knee. Then he would ask them one question: “Is there anything that I need to ask your forgiveness for?”

Invariably there was something that they would say he had done that they perceived was a wrong done to them.

The natural reaction for most of us would be to explain why we had done what we did so that the child would understand better what happened. But David held back from making it a teaching moment. He didn’t get defensive or corrective. His concern was for their heart to be freed from whatever pain they may be holding.

So David would humbly say—and model—for each son how to ask for forgiveness.

“I’m sorry. Would you forgive me?”

And with a quick “Yes!” and a hug and kiss each boy would scamper off…with a heart that was more whole and a deeper love for their father because he asked for their forgiveness.

There are SO MANY adults who go through life wishing that their father had done this for them. Because their father never did ask for forgiveness, wounds accumulated over the years. The intimate relationship longed for was never fully achieved.

Imagine what asking this one question could free up in your relationship with your spouse! It has the potential to set you on a new and steeper trajectory!

What might you hear if you asked the question of your spouse: “Is there anything that I need to ask your forgiveness for?” How do you think you would respond to what you hear?

We want to encourage you to seriously consider having this conversation with your mate. As you think about it, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1) Wait to ask the question until you are ready to hear the answers.

2) Just listen to their response without explanation or defense

3) If your spouse want to ask the question back to you, request that they bring it up a different time if they wish. This conversation is a focus on you making things right.

4) Be sure your timing is good and you have their attention. (Dinner prep., diaper changing, oil changing, etc is not good timing!)

5) When you ask the question, listen carefully. Make your request for forgiveness specific to what is shared with you.

6) If your spouse isn’t ready to forgive you, stay humble about the issue. Leave their processing in His hands and let it go. Don’t take offense at what is shared or at how your mate responds—that’s ultimately between them and God.

7) After the conversation, don’t raise it up again or go back to explain yourself. This is an opportunity to practice humility and learn to trust God in your marriage. Let Him be your Advocate.

8) Have peace knowing that you have honored Jesus by seeking to keep accounts clean with your spouse.

9) Ask the game-changing question on a regular basis—and watch how it helps you build your marriage!