Q. My husband hurt me deeply over something he considers minor. After we talked about it I felt better and I told him I was willing to forgive him. He was offended by this saying I was making him out as the bad guy and myself as a “goody two shoes” with my talk of forgiveness.
I told him he was the bad guy in this case as he hurt me. We ended up in a fight, all because I offered forgiveness! What’s our problem and what can we do to solve it?
A. Marriage is not easy! In the context of our closest relationships an argument can erupt over most anything. We can create a conflict even when we’re trying to resolve a problem or when we’re trying to reach out in forgiveness! We can make things better by learning from our conflicts. The frustrations of marriage are our growing points, the areas we need to examine, talk about and change. In other words it will help to study the communication patterns between you. Ask yourself the following:
1. Are you and your husband in a cycle of hurt and blame? Is there a pattern of arguing or distance, of sarcasm or teasing, of subtle or not so subtle put-downs? If any of these patterns fit you, you will both need to own up to your own part in this pattern and begin to change it. Respect is essential to a comfortable and happy relationship. Begin treating your partner the way you treat your friends.
2. Do you feel or act superior to your husband? Most anything we do, even offering forgiveness, can be used as a form of control or as a way to judge or look down on the other person. Apparently this is how your husband took your comments even though you were sincere in offering forgiveness. When we are condescending in any way we may continue the battle. We have the upper hand. We can sling guilt, lording over our partner the terrible wrong he or she has committed.
3. Are you aware that you can be very hurt by your husband’s behavior even though he did not intend to hurt you? His motive for doing what he did may be totally unrelated to its effect on you.
4. Are you both aware that you cannot expect another person to be responsible for your feelings? Our feelings are a guide for us as to our own inner self. Our feelings are our individualized reactions and depend on many things including our past experiences, our beliefs, and our thoughts. Often deep emotions are triggered by an unconscious hurt from the past. Our current upsetting situation reminds us in some way of this past event.
5. If your husband has wronged you, betraying an agreement you had between you or not keeping a promise, then in this specific instance he is the wrong doer and you are the person who has been hurt. In this case he would need to accept responsibility for what he has done and do all he can to repair the damage. In the actual complex interaction between a couple often both have contributed to the pain in the relationship.
Counseling can help you learn and grow in your relationship. Counseling can help you create a happier marriage. See a Christian counselor together so your communication pattern (the interaction between you) will be the focus of most of the help given.
“Love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything.” 1 Peter 4:8 The Message