Hubs and I are doing a 7 week marriage course called.....The Marriage Course ...go figure. The difference between this and other seminars is that each couple sits at their own little table so you can discuss each topic and questionairre in privacy. Three cheers for not having to air the dirty laundry! Oh and we also get coffee and dessert EACH WEEK!
This course is specifically designed to get you and your spouse talking about some things that you may have never talked about. Heck, we thought we wouldn't have much to say.....turns out we were wrong! Communication is a beautiful thing.
Last nights' segment was on The Power of Forgiveness and identify unresolved hurt. My love and I found it especially...helpful?...so I'd like to share with you some exercises to help open the lines of communication.
Have you ever stopped to think about how past hurts are coloring your relationship today? You may not even realize just how much an unresolved hurt influences the way you deal with conflict in your day-to-day life. It's possible that it may even stem from a previous relationsip.
Do you have a quick temper? Impatient or intolerant? Have you found yourself escaping to work or other activities rather than spending time with your spouse? Is your sleep disturbed? Is your sex drive low? Do you feel like a robot, just going through the motions?
These are all possible symptoms of unresolved hurt in our relationships, and there are many more.
The first step is to IDENTIFY those hurts. Take some time to sit down with your spouse, grab a coffee and two notebooks....and some tissues.
- try to identify ways you may have hurt your partner. Be honest with yourself and take care not to make excuses or point blame.
- now list ways that your partner has hurt you. It may be recent or it may be something that happened a long time ago. Think back to your dating relationship even. It may be one incident or something that occurs over and over again. Again, be honest with yourself and identify the feelings associated with the hurt. Use "I" sentences.
- when you are finished, exchange lists and read how your spouse feels he/she has hurt you and the ways you have hurt your spouse.
- take turns "clarifying" each others hurts. Ask for more detail and really try to understand your partner. Do not try and interpret what they have written or try and defend yourself.
"Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." Philippians 3:13
Step three is FORGIVE.
Forgiveness is a choice. Not a feeling. It is not demanding a change before forgiving someone. It is not pretending it doesn't matter. It is not thinking that time alone will heal the hurt. It won't. You have to CHOOSE to forgive. You may have to forgive someone many times - even for the same thing. It is a process.
"Peter came to Jesus and asked, 'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?' Jesus answered, 'I tell you, not seven times but seventy-seven times seven.'" Matthew 18:21-22
Something that really struck me was that "forgiveness is releasing the other person into God's hands, leaving the consequences to Him." If we continue to hold the transgression in our hearts, we are the ones that will be ensnared by resentment and bitterness. We have been forgiven by God therefore we must forgive one another.
"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger.....Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ephesians 4:31-32
My love realized that he hadn't forgiven me for my past. I realized that I react to my love's advances negatively in part because of experiences I had in a previous relationship. It was a tearful night. You might be surprised at what comes bubbling up from the depths.
I challenge you to work through this exercise with your partner...even if you think there couldn't possibly be anything to talk about. Take time together. Pray together. Forgive together. Grow together.