I’ve been reading Paul Tripp’s new book, “What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage” lately and have found it to be very insightful and easy to read. The best thing about everything Paul Tripp writes is that all his advice boils down to believing and living in light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In Tripp’s mind, all the problems of a marriage are treated with the forgiving, redeeming, gracious, and merciful message of the crucified and risen Savior, Jesus Christ.
In his chapter called, “Canceling Debt” Tripp talks about the necessity of forgiveness in healthy marriages as a reflection of the forgiveness that we’ve received from God. He expands on the thought that marriages grow all kinds of problems when forgiveness is withheld. Like:
Envy of other couples
Fantasies of escape
What I found most interesting and helpful to me, in framing my own definition of forgiveness, was his answer to the question:
If unforgiveness breeds all these negative things, “Then Why Don’t People Just Forgive?”
“The sad reality is that there is short-term, relationally destructive power in refusing to forgive.”
In other words, it puts our spouse in our debt. Tripp explains that we sinfully do this because:
1. Debt is Power
“In moments when we want our way we pull out some wrong against our spouse as our relational trump card.”
2. Debt is Identity
“Holding on to our spouses weaknesses or sins makes us feel superior.”
3. Debt is Entitlement
“Carrying our spouses wrongs makes us feel deserving and therefore comfortable with being self-focused and demanding…’After all I’ve had to endure in this relationship with you don’t I deserve…’“
4. Debt is Weaponry
“If our spouse hurts us it is tempting to use their sin to retaliate.”
5. Debt puts us in God’s position
“We make it our job to make sure our spouse feels the appropriate amount of guilt for what he or she has done. But that’s not our job…it’s God’s job.”
While Tripp clearly does not encourage couples to ignore their spouses sin, he does talk about forgiveness as a vertical thing before it is ever a horizontal thing. In other words,
“We commit to respond to our spouse (horizontal) with the same grace that we have been given by God (vertical).”
Paul Tripp’s “What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage” is available on the CVCC Resource Table for free or you can order it HERE for 33% off the retail price!
For a highly instructive, encouraging, practical experience with Paul Tripp watch the video Q&A with him below via Desiring God Ministries. As someone who is looking forward to being a father someday I ate up his advice about parenting. Highly recommended!