A couple came in for therapy this week. She said the problem is that he never comes home for week—night dinner. He denied that. Rather, he said the problem was communication. They both have a point. The real problem is that the couple cannot communicate about his not coming home for dinner.
Arguments often arise when we communicate passionately about a certain subject. The subject triggers aggression which stymies communication. So, the wife wants to talk to her husband about his dinner attendance, but he doesn’t want to. When his wife brings up the subject, he gets heated, she gets heated, an argument starts, and a fight ensues.
What’s a couple to do? Most arguments are a timing issue. If both of you are discussing a sensitive subject and one of you becomes unpleasant or unsafe, call a time-out and wait until cooler heads prevail to reengage. No sensitive subject will become a win for both of you while one or both of you are over emotional. The more rational person should suggest a better time to resume the conversation when both of you have on your adult hats. That is the time least likely to cause an argument.
Something that has come up a few times in therapy this week is the need to put the past behind us. Dwelling on the hurt of the past is one sure way to bring our bad past into our good present. Forgiveness is a good way to leave the past behind. Some clients identify with the fact that they must wipe the slate clean in order to start over. My sister-in-law, Marilyn, asked me just today, “How did you stay married for 43 years?” It did not take long to answer, “We just keep forgiving each other!”
On the other hand, resentment or unforgiveness hurts relationships as well as the resentful person. Someone once said, “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting your spouse to die.” It is a self-inflicted wound.
Forgiveness is not about forgetting with your mind, it is about forgetting with your heart, i.e., not treating someone as if they hurt you. If you must treat your spouse like he or she has hurt you, then you have not forgiven.
Why not give forgiveness a try, today?
THE FOUR “C”S
You can tell how healthy your marriage is by asking, “How well does my marital relationship illustrate the four “C”s?” They are:
Your marriage is only as well as it exemplifies these four areas. If you are not sure, ask your spouse. It may help to rate each area on a scale of 1 to 5 and then ask, “How can we get these numbers higher?”