Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love makes up for all offenses. Proverbs 10:12
It hadn’t been a good morning. Just before breakfast they had blown up at each other. Oh, did that sound like any of you? It goes something like this… Actually it goes EXACTLY like this:
“You are so self-centered and insensitive,” she told him. “Well, you overreact to everything,” he retorted.
- She wanted to take some time to talk about the situation.
- He couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
- Before they hopped into separate cars to drive to work, each got in a few final jabs on the fly.
Truth be told, the argument had been building up over several weeks, maybe even months and had nothing to do with current events. The import of the squabble was more about feelings and less about substance.
Since we always refer to our clients as Fred and Wilma (in honor of the first TV couple to be shown in bed together other than an obscure 15 minute sketch in the late ‘40s), we’ll call these folks by those names.
Wilma thought about all the times Fred was preoccupied with his job, his friends, his hobbies, his favorite team — anything other than her. She began to wonder, “Does he really love me anymore? If he really loved me, would he treat me this way?”
Fred was irritable when he got to the rock quarry that morning. “What’s gotten into Wilma?” he wondered. “She’s really turned into a nag — just like her mother!”
That morning both Fred and Wilma felt terribly alone and lonely. They both wondered if they were going to make it as a couple. With their hurts running so deep, marriage loomed over them like an endurance contest.
I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love. –Mother Teresa
I started to ask if you have ever felt that way, but never mind, I know you have. I know you have certainly felt the stinging pain, if only briefly, of something your spouse said or did. Here’s an AHA Moment for you. With marriage comes pain. It’s part of the package. Part of our marriage ceremony, right after the exchange of vows and rings says,
Happiness is a choice Pain is inevitable, but Misery is optional
Whenever we are hurt, we usually see ourselves as poor innocent victims. Someone has done us an injustice, and now we’re left to pick up the pieces. I won’t debate with you about whether or not you are a victim or a perpetrator but, while it may be true that you are a victim, you are not a helpless victim. You can choose how you’ll respond. You get to choose:
- You can either choose to be angry, self-righteous and resentful, or
- You can choose to rise above the negativity and forgive your spouse and pursue unity
- You can remind yourself that whatever the fuss, it’s not all about current events and may not have anything to do with current events
- You can learn to listen to the feelings behind the words and
- You can decide to find out where the words are actually coming from and almost finally
- You can ask this question, “What would you like for me to do differently?” then give the answer to your spouse as a gift (something you CAN do, but do not ordinarily do, but you CHOOSE to do)
- You can also ask us for some time to facilitate your conversations. The doctor makes house calls
That’s what this proverb is all about: forgiveness. Unless you live in total denial, it’s the only way to cover over all wrongs. Ask the people in Chalreston, SC this week. And it begins when you free yourself from any vindictiveness and desire to hurt back. The Apostle Paul sums it up in a straight-forward way: “Never pay back evil for evil . . . do not seek revenge,” (Romans 12:17-19). Reflect and Respond What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard on cultivating forgiveness? Someone has to go first…YOU be first! Share with me and we’ll help others.
BTW, if you’re stuck, holler and we can help, but I already said that. Keep on Keeping on!!