Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Bold Love: Laying Aside The Past Wrongs in Your Marriage

I have several large bookshelves that stand directly behind where I sit when I counsel couples. (I somehow believe it will it impress them but that hasn't ever seemed to work.)  And I often use those shelves as an illustration regarding how we like to keep our own personal bookshelves handy, shelves filled with all the wrongs our spouse did in the past.

And then when we need them we grab one or two or twenty of those "books" and throw them again at our spouse. "I've never trusted you since that day five years ago when . . . " or "Don't you ever forget how much you hurt me when . . . " or "You lied back then and you're obviously lying now. When will it ever stop?"

Now granted the past matters because it has shaped much of what we do today. It matters because we need to learn from it sometimes. It matters if things really haven't changed and today you're simply facing more of the same.

However, healthy couples instead learn to leave those volumes on the shelf and communicate only in the HERE and NOW.  When they are angry or upset they talk about what's currently happening and don't include the past as part of the discussion.  They let go of the past out of love for their spouse and work on today only.  This is a biblical concept.

"Love does not store up the memory of any wrong it has received."  I Corinthians 13

We need to forgive, to let go of the wrongs against us. As I've said before, forgiveness is not about letting someone else off the hook as much as letting yourself off the hook.  But if you and your spouse are ever going to make real progress in dealing with conflict you will have to live by this idea of letting go of the past.

How do you live this out in everyday life?  Start rephrasing your comments when you're angry, hurt or confused.  Say something like, "This morning I was really hurt when you . . . .  "  as opposed to, "Every time I try to bring up (blank) you get defensive and blame me.  It started the day we were married and I don't even know why I try any more."

Don't let the past own you anymore.  Love even admits that often our view of the past is skewed by our emotional reaction to it.  Sometimes it's as bad as remember but often it is not.  Either way, it does us no good now.

Love was never intended to be easy or not require big-time sacrifice. Read the rest of I Corinthians 13 and you'll see what I mean. But the love God describes there is the only kind we should settle for. And if we're going to enjoy it then we need to forgive . . . even when it's hard.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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