We had Session 4 of the Marriage Course last Wednesday. The session dealt with the power of forgiveness. The following is a brief extract.
1. How can intimacy be lost?
Intimacy is built on trust and openness but hurt undermines trust and openness. In every marriage, hurt is inevitable and this must be dealt with. Emotion is not buried dead but buried alive.
So when hurt and anger are buried there are physical symptons like disturbed sleep and one's appetite is affected. It can also cause medical conditions like ulcers, high blood pressure and pain. It affects one's behaviour, like, the inability to relax, low sexual desire, quick temper, intolerance and etc. Emotional symptoms include loss of positive emotions, e.g. romanance, love, low sel-esteem, depression and fear of confrontation.
2. How can intimacy be restored?
A. Identify the hurt. We need to recognize the ways in which we have caused our partner pain and hurt our marriage. Jesus said, "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift" (Matthew 5: 23-24). Couples must be prepared to tell their partner where they have been hurt.
B. Apologize. We must learn to take responsibility, which means, learning to say, "I have done wrong." Resist the urge to rationalizr what you did to your partner and don't blame your partner. Learn to confess to God and apologize to each other. True love in marriage means having to say "I am sorry" and keep the door open for reconciliation and healing.
C. Forgive. Forgiveness is one of the greatest forces for healing in a marriage. There are different degress of difficulty in forgiving. We can learn from Jesus who forgave those who crucified him on the cross. Forgiveness is first and foremost a choice not a feeling. It is a process. We need to keep forgiving to allow healing to take place.
D. Start again together. Thank God for showing you your mistakes and for his forgiveness. comfort each other and pray for one another - asking God to heal your partner of the hurt you have caused him or her. "Love keeps no record of wrongs" (1 Corinthians 13:5).
The exercise in the evening was the real work that puts theory into practice.