Forgiveness can be difficult, but is necessary for the health and personal growth of the offended and the continuation of relationships within families and among friends.
Forgiveness is letting go of the feelings associated with an offense or wrongdoing against us. This doesn’t absolve fault, but does free the forgiver from the chains of anger, hatred and vengeance. We all offend and are offended, so why is it sometimes difficult to forgive?
My wife Tami felt angry. “All you do after you get home from work and eat dinner is sit on the couch. Why can’t we talk, or take a walk together, or do both?”
Couples will always have complaints about each other. Unfortunately, instead of expressing their complaints, they resort to criticizing each other. Unchecked criticism leads to contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. Dr. John Gottman calls these the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and when couples fall prey to the Four Horsemen, it can lead to divorce.
Tami’s criticism provoked me to defend myself. We were almost three years into our marriage, and hadn’t yet learned how to effectively air our complaints about each other.
Anger can be processed by going on a run, practicing yoga, or mindfully engaging in deep breathing. While these are all great tactics, what happens when your anger is directed at your partner in the heat of the moment?
Anger can overwhelm even the most self-reflective and self-aware person. When you are flooded, your pulse races and your limbic system takes over, making rational thought almost impossible.
It’s important to understand that anger is often a red herring which covers up more vulnerable feelings such as embarrassment, sadness, and hopelessness.
John Gottman’s research revealed that about ⅔ of relationship problems are unsolvable. One of my favorite questions for couples is whether that statistic is discouraging or encouraging. Think about that for a second. Does the idea that 69% of your issues are not going away bum you out? Or does it give you hope?
Most couples I know are frustrated by the fact that most of their problems are unsolvable. It’s hard to have the same battles over and over again. My personal bias, however, is that I’m glad to know that we’re normal. My wife and I spent way too much time arguing over the fact that we were having the same fight that we ultimately forgot what we were fighting about in the first place.
Dr. Gottman has said that the number one thing that couples fight about is nothing. I can vouch for this. This past weekend, my wife and I got into an argument over fruit flies. It was really stupid. Later, when our older daughter (age 11) was explaining the argument to her sister (age 7), she said, “It’s never about the fruit flies.” Indeed. What’s it about then?
Any seasoned counselor will tell you that even the happiest couples have problems. In fact, Dr. John Gottman, famous marriage researcher and author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, has identified four of the most typical areas of solvable marital conflict: technology, work stress, money, and housework.
For a review of Dr. Gottman’s teachings on perpetual versus solvable problems, click here.
While something such as housework may seem like no big deal, there is emotional importance attached to these tasks that deepens our bond when they are accomplished. When these tasks are not accomplished, partners no longer feel like a safe haven for each other in the chaos of life—rather they make life for each other feel even more chaotic.
In The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, Dr. John Gottman lists the 6 most common areas of marital conflict. He explains that, “even in very happy and stable marriages, these issues are perennial.” We will touch on these six types of arguments, the task they each represent for a marriage, and offer practical advice for addressing the solvable disagreements they often trigger.
Remember that all couples argue, and that’s okay. We grow in our relationships by reconciling our differences. That’s how we become more loving people and truly experience the fruits of marriage.
THE TRUE AND SAD REASONS WHY ‘BAD MEN’ ARE SO ADDICTIVE TO WOMEN AND HOW TO BREAK AWAY FROM THEM
Are women addicted to ‘bad men,’ or is there something else going on?
“What is a bad man?” you ask. We’re talking about men who destroy women’s self-esteem or well-being, and emotionally abuse them. These bad men could be felons or gang members, but they’re often just average men who treat women poorly and emotionally abuse them.
These men don’t usually start bad. They might have a past of being nice – or pretending to be nice. Women fall for them, and they love them dearly. These women recognized the ‘bad men’ weren’t perfect from the beginning, but they convinced themselves they could ‘fix’ these men and make them better.
The true and sad reality is that women in emotionally abusive relationships often suffer from low self-esteem and feel trapped in these relationships – they’re not addicted. These women might not think they can do better, and they might not think they deserve better.
40 QUOTES THAT WILL CALM YOUR MIND WHEN YOU’RE AT A CROSSROADS
It happens to all of us gradually as we live and grow. We discover more about who we are and the way life really is, and then we realize there are some changes we need to make. The lifestyle we’ve been living no longer fits. The environments and relationships we once found comfort in no longer exist, or no longer serve our best interests. So we cherish all the great memories, but find ourselves at a crossroads, choosing to embark on the first step of a brand new path.
And it’s not easy. It’s painful to give up what’s comfortable and familiar, especially when you have no other choice. Marc and I have struggled through this process many times out of necessity. Over the past decade we’ve had to deal with several significant, unexpected life changes and challenges, including:
Those of you who have been reading this blog have already read about the first three types of intimacy. Hopefully, you’ve been using these ideas with your partner to deepen these types of intimacy in your relationship. Before we get any further along in this process, I thought it would be wise to get clear with your partner about how each of you experience intimacy in your relationship.
There is no such thing as a perfectly-intimate relationship. What is important is that you develop the kinds of intimacy that are most important to your partner…and to you. The better matched you are with your partner, the more alike will be your desire levels for the different types of intimacy. For example, I know couples who are natural playmates as they mountain bike together or backpack together. Other couples easily thrive on a shared passion for intellectual intimacy or spiritual intimacy.