Family Life Association for Ministry and EducationFamily Counseling Ministries
Print | Back

couple17 med

Why Should I Always Be the First One to Apologize?

By Dr. Don Dunlap
Pastoral Counselor
Has resentment toward your spouse caused the joy in your relationship to ebb away?

Family Counseling Ministries -

Husbands and wives live together in the most up close and personal way. She dulls his new razor when she borrows it to shave her legs. He leaves his clothes lying around on the floor. She forgets to put the lid back on the toothpaste and he leaves the toilet lid up. She doesn’t turn the light off when she leaves a room and he forgets to lock the doors at night.


Marriage partners inevitably step on one another’s toes from time to time. As husbands and wives allow resentments to creep into their relationship, the joy they once experienced in one another’s presence begins to ebb away.


The prayer of any husband or wife who has been offended by his or her spouse should be, “Lord may I be the first one to forgive.” This is not usually the case.

All too often offended partners employ a deadly battle tactic. They hold out, declaring that they will not make things right until the offender admits that he or she is wrong. They are determined they will not swallow their pride and be the first one to crumble, no matter how long it takes.

They inform their spouse that they are prepared to grant forgiveness as soon as their mate comes to his or her senses and apologizes for having behaved poorly. God’s Word makes it clear that it is sinful to demand an apology from an offender as a prerequisite for forgiving him or her.


It is solely the Holy Spirit’s job to convict husbands and wives of the error of their ways. We often get in God’s way when we try to convict our spouse of his or her sin.


When offenses occur, husbands and wives should carefully evaluate themselves in order to experience repentance and biblical forgiveness. Several questions become very helpful at this point:

1.      Did I cause an offense by my attitude?

2.      Although my words were acceptable, did I demonstrate a 

      proud attitude or an unyielding spirit?


3.      Am I guilty of any wrong actions?


4.      Were there things I failed to do that I should have done?

5.      Did I act defensive, insincere, make excuses, or try to justify my wrong behavior?


6.      Did I try to shift blame to my spouse, instead of taking full responsibility for my words and actions?


7.      Did I attempt to minimize my offense and act as though it was really no big deal?


8.      Did I ridicule my spouse for feeling hurt by my words or actions?


9.      Did I act as though I was too busy or preoccupied to deal with the offense?

10.  Did I bring up my spouse’s past sins and remind my spouse that he or she is “not perfect either?”


Christians who desire to walk in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord must make an earnest and diligent effort to master the biblical principles of forgiveness. We need to make it our goal to humble ourselves and be the first one to forgive whenever we experience marital conflict.


Dr. Don Dunlap, a pioneer in the placement of Pastoral Counselors in the offices of Christian physicians, has conducted over twenty thousand appointments during his ministerial career. His counseling practice includes adults, children and families in crisis. Dr. Dunlap is committed to facilitating a network of telephone counselors. His goal is to provide help for the many people unable to meet face to face with a competent Bible-based counselor. For a complete library of Dr. Dunlap’s articles, indexed by topic, go to Family Counseling Ministries. You may also make an appointment for personal telephone counseling by clicking on Family Counseling Ministries. Family Counseling Ministries is a ministry Partner.

Terms & Conditions | Privacy Statement