A Christian marriage – boring? Not at all! On the contrary, as a believing couple, you have access to a world of fun in your marriage.
Solomon even recommended it when he said in Ecclesiastes 9:9 “Enjoy life with the woman you love…”.
Research done by the University of Denver shows that couples who have fun together, stay together. “The correlation between fun and marriage satisfaction is high and noticeably, the more they invest in fun and friendship, and being there for each other, the happier the relationship will become over time,” says Howard Markman, a psychologist and co-director at the University’s Centre for Marital and Family Studies.
In addition, in his book Blueprints for a Solid Marriage, Dr Steve Stephens writes: “Couples who know how to play and have fun together, develop a bond that can carry them through the most difficult times”.
A New York Times article entitled Reinventing Date Night for Long-Married Couples further highlights that quality time alone is not enough to result in satisfaction with a relationship. Researchers have found that couples have to spend that time doing interesting activities, because it is new experiences that activate the brain’s reward system.
Couples who took part in exciting date nights reported much greater satisfaction in their marriages than others. So, grab the opportunity – it is not as if we are telling you to sit and study a stack of books together! To have fun with each other is probably the most enjoyable and easiest way to strengthen the bond in your marriage.
This is how you can do it:
- Be silly!
Just because you’re grown up doesn’t mean that you have to be boring. And what is better than some silliness, just like when you were kids? Wake hubby up with a clown wig on your head and a cigar in your mouth. Read silly jokes, go ice skating or have a water balloon fight. It is the best cure for boredom!
- Try something new.
Is there something you have always wanted to do, but never got around to doing? Do it together! Whether it is something adventurous like parachuting out of a helicopter or learning how to make chocolate… Make it happen and take enough pictures to later look back and remember those moments.
- Stay in bed the whole day.
Yes, it is fun! Especially because you would normally feel too guilty to do it. Plan the day: Pack a cooler box full of drinks and snacks so that you don’t even have to get up to go to the kitchen. Make out, sleep, eat, make out, sleep, eat… repeat.
- Celebrate everything under the sun!
Make a big fuss over every little thing. The first summer greens, the last day of school, the first swim of the year, the last day of winter. Celebrate the fact that you have survived another year with your son’s strict kindergarten principal. Buy cupcakes for everyone if little sis gives up her pacifier. Create your own events and celebrate!
- Play games
When was the last time you played Pictionary? Or Uno? Invite another couple for game night and have a good laugh. Print T-shirts (for example the Johnsons vs the Smiths), make up a war cry that you perform before the games start and buy a tub full of M&M’s for the winning team! Or forget the friends and take each other on, but find a reason to take off your clothes in the process… like playing “strip” Uno.
- Make date night non-negotiable.
Whether you buy soft serve ice cream at McDonald’s to enjoy somewhere with a view, or whether you go out for a three-course meal at a five-star hotel… put it in your diaries and mark it as “important”. Nothing should interfere with date night.
- Occasionally involve the kids.
Many parents are inclined to think that their romantic plans must always include the children. It does not have to be that way. But sometimes it is impossible to find a babysitter and every now and then you have to include the little ones in your romantic activities. How about a picnic in the moonlight or watching stars on the trampoline? These ideas can be just as romantic, even if the kids are around. At the same time, it will also give them a good example of what a healthy, fun-filled marriage should look like.
- Keep your conversations interesting
Yes, sometimes it is necessary to talk about the “important” things, but it is equally necessary to be light-hearted every now and then. Talk to each other in rhymes for an hour! Or imitate funny accents. Quote famous movies or Shakespeare. Whatever you choose, do your best to make each other laugh.
It is completely natural to have fun, we just tend to forget to prioritize it as we get older. Bring back the fun into your relationship and soon you will have the most enjoyable marriage you can imagine!
Sources: www.equippinggodlywomen.com; www1.cbn.com; www.drmichellegannon.com
When Peter decided to take his wife, Tessa, on a love journey, he could never predict how it would impact their relationship. Or which spiritual truths would arise . . .
The couple met when they were still students and after life took its turns, ended up farming and managing a guest house. After having three kids and despite having a healthy marriage, Peter decided to do something special for his wife. It had to be more meaningful than roses and chocolate, and it had to be more memorable than dinner at a fancy restaurant. So he decided on a love journey . . .
Where did he get the idea?
“I don’t know how I got the idea, but what I do know is that God always shows up where there is love. One day, I started thinking about the hierarchy that we are supposed to function within. God comes first, then your husband or wife, followed by your children and then your job.
“Why do we get so involved with our careers and kids that we tend to lose the spark that exists between you and your spouse? We forget about God, who brought us together. This is when I realized that the biggest gift I could give my children wouldn’t be paying for their private school education or buying them expensive gifts – it would be showing them that I truly love their mother.
“I see how my sons admire me and idolize everything I do. If I can show them how to treat their future wives, then I would have taught them a valuable lesson about life. And I obviously wanted to show my wife how much I care about her.”
What did the journey entail?
Although the love journey wasn’t planned as a birthday present, the timing of the journey coincidentally coincided with Tessa’s birthday. Peter explains that he isn’t a romantic guy by nature and that he found it challenging to come up with something completely original.
“Everything about the journey had to be fresh and true to us. I forced myself to think outside of the box and stay away from the same old gestures, such as taking her to dinner,” says Peter.
One morning, when Tessa was taking the kids to school, Peter handed the challenge over to God. Within half an hour, nine ideas came to his mind. Although all men are not handy with DIY tasks, everyone has their own unique talents and Peter started to work with determination.
He didn’t have time to work on his love journey project during the day, so he had to secretly plan everything without Tessa noticing what was going on. Each of the activities for the nine days was carefully planned so that the journey could flow smoothly.
This is how the love journey panned out:
I brought Tessa coffee in bed and put three flowers from the garden on a tray. I also included a glass vase filled with little wooden stars and a letter. Only one of the wooden stars was perfectly carved out and I placed this perfect star in the middle of the vase.
In the letter, I wrote: “There are many stars in the universe. Big ones, small ones, bright ones and pretty ones, but to me you are the biggest, brightest star. You are my star. Try to find the perfect star in this vase – this is what you are in my eyes.” I then left the house and continued with my farming activities.
I’m an involved father, but if I’m really honest I must admit that I don’t pull my weight when it comes to changing nappies and bathing the little ones. My wife takes care of everything.
I decided to show Tessa that I appreciate everything she does by writing letters to her from the point of view of our one-year-old daughter, and hiding them in the nappies that she would be using that day.
The letters read: “Thank you for changing my nappy when Daddy is too grossed out to do it”; “If I had to wait for Dad to change this nappy, my bum would have a rash”; “When I look at you while you change my nappy, I see the best mom in the whole world”; and “Mommy, do you know how beautiful you are?”
I brought my wife coffee and a small bottle of her favorite perfume in bed, with a note that read: “You might need this today. I love you.”
I continued with my daily activities and phoned my wife at home at about 11am to ask her to look for something specific in my office. Next to the computer, I left a bottle of rose-scented cream with a little poem that had a private joke that only the two of us would understand. She was laughing helplessly when she phoned me back. It was great fun!
At 2pm, I gave her a wood-based invite that had information engraved on it. It read:
Place: Our farm.
Time: As soon as you are done with everything you need to organize at the guest house (my wife runs the guest house on our farm).
What: Dinner for two by candlelight.
Dress code: Sexy.
Arrangements for Cara (our one-year-old daughter): Pack her overnight bag, she has a sleepover date.
Reason: You deserve it. I love you very much and I want to be with you, around you and inside you. Words can’t express what I feel.
The moment when she read the invitation, was priceless. The expression on her face looked like something between crying and laughing. While Tessa was busy helping the guests to settle in at the guesthouse, our neighbor dropped off a four-course meal that she had prepared for us and she took our daughter home with her for the sleepover. I put on my wife’s favorite music, set the table, and placed candles and roses around the living room and dining room.
When Tessa arrived, I blindfolded her and led her to the room, where she could change into her fancy outfit. The best times I’ve had with my wife have been at home, because the atmosphere is just right. No fancy restaurant can compete with the level of comfort we feel at home.
My wife was so relaxed and emotional about the whole setup that she found it hard to speak without crying. We spent time talking, dancing and just enjoying each other’s company in the empty house.
Afterwards, I told her that coffee would be served in bed. I bought her age-appropriate sexy nighties and I left it for her on the bed. It was an unforgettable night filled with passion and romance.
I work hard on the farm and didn’t have a lot of free time during the morning. My next surprise could only be kick-started at around lunch time. I made Tessa a ‘love box’, which was a wooden chest filled with six red wooden hearts, a lavender scented soap and a bottle of lavender cream.
I tried to remove all stressors from her day. I tended to the guests at the guesthouse, took care of some household tasks and got Cara to sleep with me in a different room so that she could get a good night’s rest.
I timed my appearance perfectly to coincide with the moment when she got out of the bath. I took a towel, dried her wet body and massaged the lavender cream all over her body. I felt such awe and appreciation for my wife in that moment. I was in awe of the fact that God had blessed me with the most beautiful woman I have ever seen and that I have the privilege to love her the way that I do.
Today is the day of love letters. I didn’t write any of the letters beforehand, but as the day progressed, I focused on Tessa and wrote down my thoughts. I surprised her with three letters throughout the day.
The first letter was about the previous night and how much it means to me to be able to care for her. The second letter was about all the feelings I experience whenever I look at her. The third letter was a letter asking for forgiveness. I asked her to forgive me for all the times that I was too selfish to consider her needs above my own.
Our sons are in boarding school during the week. Now it was weekend and we had a full house, so my plan was to involve my two sons so that they could help me make their mother feel like a princess.
We morphed a piece of metal into a sign that read ‘We love you’, and after the sun had set, we set it alight on the grass. When Tessa came out into the garden and saw it, she was visibly moved. One of my sons said: “Dad, we really have a great family, right?”
I got all three of my children to dip their hands in paint to create an invitation, which was inviting Tessa to a picnic in our tree house that evening. Throughout the day, each of the children gave their mom a handwritten letter telling her why they think she is the best mom in the world.
We cleaned the tree-house and placed pillows everywhere for us to sit. Tessa read the letters from the children out loud, and we had a great time eating and enjoying each other’s company. At one point, Tessa suggested that we all share secrets. The kids shared personal stories that we never would have known about. They shared insights about burdens they had carried. It was an amazing evening of laughing, sharing, crying and comforting. It felt very liberating.
On Sunday we had guests and I read to Tessa from the Bible. I read a passage from Song of Solomon to convey that there is a reason why I, as a man, am more focused on sensuality and sexuality than she is. God made us this way. I told her that the description of a woman in this part of the Bible is how I feel about her. I think she is the most beautiful thing on the planet.
Today is my wife’s birthday. She is turning 38. It’s a special day for her, even though I didn’t give her a present (I had bought her a Le Creuset casserole a month prior to her birthday).
Tessa took the kids to school at 6am, which is a two-hour drive from our farm, and she spent time with her girlfriends to celebrate her birthday. I made a big red heart, filled with 108 candles, and I got 200 roses. I arranged the flowers in bouquets all around the house, poured Tessa a bath and chilled a bottle of champagne.
When she came back, we got into the bath and chatted to each other. After the bath, I blindfolded her and led her to the bed before I massaged her entire body with cream and oils. When she took off her blindfold, I had 38 red hearts hanging from the ceiling. This concluded our love journey. My wife had to wipe away tears of appreciation and gratitude from her cheeks.
What did the love journey mean to Tessa?
Peter had warned her that he was planning something, but Tessa thought it would be a romantic evening out. When the love journey started, she immediately realized that this would be something different, something deeper . . .
She says that Peter regularly tells her he loves her and appreciates her, and that he is more of a practical guy that a romantic one. “I could tell that all the romantic and loving ideas came from him, it was something that God had catalyzed for us. Peter was definitely inspired by something, and he spent a lot of time planning and perfecting my love journey.”
She says that she once again realized that intimacy is something that we receive as a gift from God.
How did it change their sex life?
Peter says the frequency hasn’t changed, but the intensity has changed drastically. “Both me and my wife feel like we can’t get close enough to each other – we want to melt into each other. We could talk openly about our needs, we were less self-conscious and shy, and we were both really focused on pleasing each other. We were able to be in love selflessly again.
“Today I look back on our love journey as something that taught both of us how to appreciate each other again. It was much more than a journey, it was a path that God took us on to understand the true meaning of love between a husband and wife, as well as the love between the two of us and Him.”
It can be very hard to forgive someone who has broken your trust, but if your marriage necessitates forgiveness, you must try. How do you do it?
Caren and Jacques were the perfect couple. After being married for seven years, having two kids together and both having stable careers, Jacques cheated on Caren with a woman he met at the gym.
The affair only lasted a short time, but it led him down a path of strip clubs, Internet pornography and multiple lies. For two years, Caren felt like she didn’t even know her husband. He became a stranger to her, a person who didn’t respect her.
After attending a faith-based camp for men, Jacques turned his life around. He admitted all his transgressions and sins, showed true remorse and asked for forgiveness. But this was a big request from his side . . .
On his website, marriage and family therapist Bernell Christensen writes that he regularly works with spouses who find it hard to forgive their partners after years of betrayal. “A partner can experience rejection, confusion, feelings of inadequateness and self-doubt, as well as other strong emotions.
“If you don’t deal with these emotions in a productive and healthy way, it can become toxic. These feelings can damage the health and wellbeing of the spouse who is experiencing the negative emotions, and it can cause damage in the relationship.”
Maybe you can relate with Caren’s story. No marriage is completely free of transgressions. Everyone is prone to saying something in the heat of the moment, but if you hurt your partner, you must be prepared to ask him/her for forgiveness and accept the consequences. The people that we love the most, are often the ones that we hurt the most. In many marriages, forgiveness is something that needs to happen often.
What is forgiveness?
Christianity, as well as many other religions, promotes forgiveness. It is a God-given instruction, but it’s one thing to say you forgive your partner and a completely different thing to truly forgive him or her. For example, it isn’t true forgiveness when you say that you can forgive, but not forget. If you can’t put something behind you, then you have not truly forgiven.
Forgiveness means freeing yourself from a range of negative emotions and energy. It’s about letting go of your bitterness, rage and frustration, and replacing it with a feeling of gratitude. Gratitude for your own blessings, talents and self-worth, as well as for the positive things that your partner contributes to your relationship. Forgiveness is the tool that you use to give you peace and takes a weight off your shoulders.
Why is forgiveness necessary?
Forgiveness makes you stronger. However, many women feel that forgiveness would make them weaker and more vulnerable. They are also scared that by forgiving their partner, their partner won’t understand how hurt they are and may transgress in the same way again in the future. However, trying to punish your partner isn’t the answer.
Mahatma Gandhi said: “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
The inability to forgive can become a prison, says Dr Nicki P Anderson on www.nikianderson.com. If you can’t forgive your husband for the pain he has caused you, you won’t be able to forget about it, the wounds will get deeper and your rage and fear won’t subside.
Pride often stands in the way of true forgiveness. Although some women walk away from the marriage, they continue to feed their rage. This can increase their stress levels and lead to other psychological and physical problems.
If you continue holding on to your hurt, disappointments and rage, you are wasting your precious time and energy. Harbored hurt will lead to bitterness and hate, which in turn will lead to spiritual and physical ailments.
How do you forgive?
You have to practice forgiveness. There is no magical solution, but you have to free yourself from anything you are holding onto. This implies that the change needs to happen within you, but you also have to proactively change your thoughts and behavior. This doesn’t mean you have to pretend that nothing happened and that everything is normal, but you must realize that true forgiveness is a process that requires hard work and time.
If your partner has done something that requires your forgiveness, try the following:
- Call the transgression or hurt by its name. Say: “You went to a strip club, had a lap dance and lied to me about it. This hurt me a lot because it feels like you don’t respect me or the intimacy we share.” Ask questions such as: “What moral code did you break, what does this mean and what are the consequences?”
- Experience true healing. You may feel that you don’t want to revisit the painful situation, but if you try to avoid the healing and recovery that need to take place, it could lead to more pain and hurt. You need to admit, feel and experience the pain that you feel. Tell yourself that it’s okay to feel hurt because your partner broke your trust.
- Break the silence. It can benefit you to share the details of the transgression with a therapist, a trusted person or a legal advisor (depending on the nature of the transgression). To heal and to forgive requires that you admit that something is wrong and that someone is to blame.
- Prevent the situation from happening again. You need to do everything in your power to stop the transgression from taking place again. If the transgression entails your husband going to a strip club, you may feel that the situation is beyond your control. What you can do, is to tell your husband that you won’t tolerate this type of pain and hurt again, and that he will have to protect you from this pain and hurt in the future.
- Restore the balance in your relationship. The balance will be restored when the transgressor accepts the consequences of his or her actions. If your husband is addicted to Internet pornography, admits there is a problem and joins a support group, then he is accepting responsibility and trying to change. You can’t force him to change by withholding sex.
- Be honest and forgive. To receive the full benefits of forgiveness, you need to forgive your partner by saying it out loud. Be specific about what you are forgiving him for. Don’t say “I should forgive”, “I will forgive” or “I want to forgive”.
Remember that even though the Bible tells us to continue forgiving each other, it doesn’t mean that you should stay in a damaging or dangerous situation. Forgiveness is a beautiful thing, but if you have been able to work through the forgiveness process and your partner continues to mistreat you, lie to you or cheat on you, it’s time to get professional help or even end the hurtful relationship. In this situation, the process of forgiveness will take even longer (www.marriage.about.com).
Wives do several things to show their commitment. Whether it’s staying faithful to your husband, cooking dinner every evening, helping with household tasks or making love regularly, we all do things that can contribute to a happy marriage . . . but does this really contribute to having a truly committed marriage?
Commitment is much more than never cheating on your spouse. Commitment is a choice that you make, every day, to be a part of something that’s bigger than yourself. Both partners need to be committed to the relationship, to each other’s goals and to the goals of their marriage.
Every marriage will have challenges and stumbling blocks, but commitment is the glue that will help you and your partner to face the storms that come your way. Instead of seeing a rough patch or a challenge as an excuse to bail out of the relationship, you refocus and realign to ensure that you are on the same page and can be a united front – this is what commitment does for your marriage.
Commitment is a choice
According to Julie Lowe from Savingyour-marriage.info, you can’t make a marriage work without commitment, as your marriage can’t grow and flourish without it. But how do you do it and where do you start?
If you’re on the brink of getting married, you need to do a lot of introspection to make sure that this is what you really want and that you are prepared for the work that goes into having a committed marriage. Once you have decided that this person and marriage are what you want, you need to commit to it for life.
If you are already married, you will know that commitment is a choice that you make every day. You wake up and choose to love your partner and give him or her the support, time, care and encouragement that he or she needs on a daily basis.
Your emotions and feelings will deepen, and although there will be times when being in love will feel like a lot of effort and work, marriage and commitment are a choice that will get you through the tough times.
Tips for a committed marriage
With choices come priorities – what is at the top of your list, what gets preference and what can wait until later.
Tony Derbyshire from Relationship-secrets.com explains that commitment should be one of your top priorities. “A relationship is something that you must work on, and it takes care as well as effort if you want your marriage to blossom and grow. A beautiful flower gets more beautiful when it gets care and attention, to prevent it from dying. The same applies to marriages!”
Some people stay together for the sake of their kids or due to an obligation. Although this type of dedication can be admired, you also want to be happy throughout your marriage. True commitment goes further than loyalty and responsibility, and it is cemented by duty, trust, friendship, hard work and long-term vision for the relationship. True commitment is rewarding and it brings you closer to each other, so that you want to be in the marriage (not because you feel you have to).
Here are a few practical tips for commitment:
Step 1: Make your relationship a priority. How important is your relationship to you? How much time have you spent with your partner recently? What specific things have you done to protect your friendship? Does your partner know that you are committed? How can you show each other that you are committed to the marriage?
Step 2: Both of you should get a pen and paper. Make a list of five categories: Money, work, marriage, entertainment and friends. Number each item according to what you think your partner’s priorities are. Swap your lists and talk about the changes that you can make in your lives to make your commitment even stronger. Ask yourself: What I can do to show more interest in the things that interest my partner?
Step 3: Get rid of all forms of infidelity, including pornography and relationships with colleagues or friends that have a romantic element to them. It causes unbelievable damage to your unity. Ask yourself: When was the last time I flirted with my spouse? If you are attracted to someone else, limit your contact with this person.
Step 4: Show a bit of initiative during the day to make your partner feel special. Whether your marriage is rock solid or a bit wobbly, make time to spend together. Always work on staying committed to your marriage.
Everyone is busy these days, but spend quality time together as often as possible. Celebrate each other’s successes and support each other through thick and thin.
It’s quite common and easy to have conditions when loving someone. If your partner can make you feel sexy, cared for and supported, it’s easier to play up those sides of your personality so that they can benefit from it in return. But these conditions mean that you need to get something before you can give – and a Christian marriage needs to be based on unconditional love.
The writers of focusonthefamily.com say unconditional love is essential to a strong marriage, but it’s easier said than done. Conditional love wants to put the blame on someone, it expects something in return and it always wants more than what is being readily given.
Your partner has flaws (everyone does!) and if your love is conditional, you start seeing these flaws through a magnifying glass. You try to cultivate the behavior you want by making them feel inadequate when they act in a way that you don’t appreciate, or you “punish” them if they don’t self-correct their flaws.
What does this type of conditional love bring to a marriage? It makes both parties stubborn and hellbent on getting their way. It causes two adult partners to behave more like children, and it can make you yearn for something more than what you are experiencing in your marriage – for unconditional love and acceptance. It also builds resentment that it difficult to let go of.
Loving your partner unconditionally will give him a huge sense of security. He will know that your love isn’t dependent on how he behaves every moment of every day, and that your love for him is filled with grace, patience, respect and encouragement. Every person needs this.
When the concept of unconditional love gets complex
Nick and Lisa have been married for seven years. Lisa comes from a family where people love each other unconditionally and she believes that true love conquers all. The day she and Nick got married, she decided to love him unconditionally. But Lisa is far from happy.
Nick is emotionally and verbally abusive. He insults and attacks Lisa regularly, acts out, and even throws childish tantrums in front of their friends and family.
Even when Lisa is hurt and wants to retaliate, she suppresses her feelings and keeps quiet. She believes it’s her duty to love Nick unconditionally, to ignore his poor behavior and to forgive him every time he crosses the line. Is this the type of marriage that you should be striving for?
What’s not unconditional love?
On Goodmenproject.com, Thomas Fiffer says unconditional love isn’t something that you believe in – it is a choice that you should carefully consider in the context of marriage. If your partner is abusing your children or is cruel to you, it’s important to understand that it’s not your duty to accept this behavior in the name of unconditional love.
Unconditional love doesn’t mean unconditional forgiveness either. It doesn’t mean that your partner can cheat on you repeatedly or say things that hurt your feelings, and that you just have to accept it.
“Unconditional love isn’t a type of love, it’s a way of loving. As you get older, you will realize that you are able to love your children unconditionally but simultaneously disapprove of what they are doing. Your child’s terrible behavior doesn’t mean that you are going to stop loving him, but that you have to behave in a different way to address a problem or situation when it arises.”
“Saying that you love your partner unconditionally, doesn’t mean that you love him with some type of mystical purity that spills over into all of your everyday interactions. It means that with every interaction you have with your partner, you are acting from a place of love,” explains Thomas. It’s a place of no judgement, where you don’t use your partner’s vulnerability against him.
There are obvious boundaries to unconditional love. A boundary is a healthy understanding of your own value. Unconditional love is a two-way street; it’s a mutual supportive dynamic that involves both parties.
So how do you show unconditional love?
- Love your partner without any strings attached. This means that you forgive your partner for any transgressions (within reason), and that you are willing to apologize and ask for forgiveness if you were out of line.
- Before you get married, you need to decide that divorce isn’t an option and that you will tackle all problems together.
- Balance in a marriage is very important. Divide tasks and responsibilities equally, but don’t keep score of who is doing what. It s important to be able to make concessions for your partner.
- Ask your partner what you can do for him every day. This will show your partner that you truly want to meet his needs.
- Make God a part of your marriage. Protect yourself and your partner from unwanted elements in your marriage, and pray together so that you can be emotionally, physically and spiritually close to each other.
- Enjoy every moment together – the good times and the bad times. The challenging times are the ones that bring a couple closer to each other, and it helps you to appreciate how special the good times are.
- Don’t give up hope or get discouraged when things get difficult. You are both human beings with your own personalities, flaws and intentions. You don’t have to be blind to your partner’s flaws, but accept that this is the person who you love completely and unconditionally.
Additional sources: www.focusonthefamily.ca, The Great Marriage Q&A Book by Dr Gary and Barbara Roserg, www.thegoodmenproject.com, www.lifehack.org.
Forgiving someone who has hurt you is one of the hardest things to do. However, it is not only the right thing to do, but you are also able to personally benefit from being a forgiving person.
Human beings hurt each other, as it’s part of human nature. The ways in which partners hurt each other within the context of marriage can range from being hurt by unnecessary criticism to the pain that follows when discovering your partner has been having an affair for years. Sometimes it’s indeed hard to forgive your partner.
Why should you forgive?
There is a saying that a happy marriage is a unity between two people who can forgive easily. Couples who can’t forgive each other, can easily get caught up in a power struggle. Sooner than later, the issue revolves around being “right” or “winning”, instead of working together. People who are committed to their relationship are more inclined to forgive their partners.
Research shows that forgiveness can be beneficial for the person doing the forgiving. Those who can forgive have lower anxiety and stress levels, lower blood pressure and fewer signs of depression. The ability to forgive also boosts your immune system.
According to wtf-fun-facts-tumblr, forgiveness is the most important character trait that contributes to happiness. Statistics from TheIcebreak.com also showed that men are less likely to forgive infidelity (men are 22% more likely to end a relationship if they have been cheated on than women).
From the Bible
In Matthew 6:14-15, Jesus says: “If you forgive others for their transgressions, the Holy Father will forgive you. But if you can’t forgive others, then your Father won’t be able to forgive you either.”
Forgiveness is a constant attitude
“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude,” said Martin Luther King. Forgiveness is a conscious process where you decide whether the other person deserves your forgiveness or not. At the end of the day, you don’t forgive someone to give them peace of mind, but you do it to cultivate peace within yourself.
Do it for your health
According to the Mayo Clinic, unforgiveness can contribute to many health issues. In contrast, forgiveness can:
- Lower blood pressure.
- Reduce stress.
- Reduce anxiety.
- Reduce your risk of alcohol and drug dependency.
- Reduce symptoms of depression.
- Improve mental health.
- Improve heart health.
- Improve your self-esteem.
What forgiveness looks like
Author and motivational speaker, Michael J Chase, says you need to be sympathetic towards the person you want to forgive.
Michael had to forgive his father at a certain stage of his life and he said the following about the process: “Forgiving my father became a possibility when I wasn’t fighting him anymore. I could only forgive him when I was able to see the world through his eyes and be more empathetic towards him. It was freeing and relieving, but it was also heartbreaking. When I started to see the pain that my grandfather had caused my father, I couldn’t help but sympathizing and having a tremendous feeling of compassion for him.”
You can cultivate forgiveness
Forgiveness can protect you against illnesses and diseases, says Loren Toussaint, a professor and psychologist at Luther College in Iowa. Loren also believes that you can learn to forgive, and many therapists use strategies to help their patients cultivate forgiveness.
What forgiveness feels like
Studies show that some people are more inclined to forgive than others. As a result, those people are more content with their lives and have fewer signs of depression, stress, hostility and rage. People who harbor resentment are more likely to be depressed and show symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome (www.hopkindsmedicine.org).
“A happy marriage is about three things: Memories of togetherness, forgiveness of mistakes and a promise of never giving up on each other.” – Surabhi Surendra
Myth: Forgiveness requires an apology
Robert Brault said: “Life becomes easier when you learn to accept an apology you never got.” While getting an apology from someone feels good, it doesn’t always happen. Sometimes you will get that apology, but it won’t necessarily sound and feel like you hoped it would. You can’t force someone to repent, which is the reason why your forgiveness can’t be dependent on the transgressor’s words or actions.