Be angry but do not sin. Do not let the sun set on your anger.
Reconciliation and healing can be a great source of growth and grace in a couple’s relationship. Reconciliation teaches couples how to be more sensitive to the other’s feelings and needs and how to love the other more effectively. Moreover, the whole process builds intimacy and trust and is very bonding. Nonetheless, most couples tend to avoid or shy away from reconciling; they are under the misguided notion that it will all blow over or that they can remain in the same place with each other.
The truth is that relationship is dynamic and human beings change every day. You are either growing closer or you are growing apart.
When an emotional injury comes between you and you do not deal with it, it will fester and eventually become a prickly topic. It can grow into resentment, taboo subjects or repeating the same old arguments. Unresolved hurts erode the respect and tenderness of the relationship.
It is important to have an urgency to reconcile for a number of reasons. First and foremost because it will not just repair the damage but actually bring you closer. It can be an experience of loving and being loved that can build a foundation for future trust. Every act of reconciliation is a recommitment that strengthens the marriage. Couples who reconcile well seldom remember the hurt, but they do remember with great tenderness the making up.
Secondly, it is a simpler process to address an emotional injury that has just happened than it is an ancient wound. You are also more likely to heal it completely. If you bury it, it is likely to grow out of proportion and connect with other injuries. We say we forget, but we don’t.
Most importantly, remember that your relationship is precious and sacred. It is not entirely your own but meant as a sign of Christ’s love for the Church. That sign is clearest when you are deeply and obviously in love with each other. As a married couple you have a vocational responsibility to be unconditionally forgiving and life-giving to each other. Scripture tells us “Never let the sun go down on your anger”. There is nothing that is more urgent or more important than restoring your love relationship when it has been damaged.
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I used to be in the habit of playing over an argument in my mind when I was upset with my husband. I would rehearse all day what I wanted to say to him when he got home. The more I let my mind go over and over how he had wronged me, the more convinced I became of the legitimacy of my case, and the angrier I got. These were usually pretty unpleasant days. I didn’t enjoy the sunshine, didn’t enjoy my kids, didn’t enjoy any of the things I usually did because I was too preoccupied with justifying my grievance. By the time my poor husband got home, I’d had a whole day stewing over it; it was like walking into the kill zone of an ambush.
I realise now how destructive this was. Not only was it a disaster for our relationship, it was very unhealthy for me. This kind of thinking was just pulling me down. It was absorbing my energy and crushing my spirit. It was taking me away from doing life-giving, productive things. I realised I had to take ownership for my thoughts. I had to apply a bit of self-discipline.
Now, whenever I find my self-talk running amuck, I consciously choose to Stop.Reflect.Connect. I stop any destructive self-talk, I reflect on what my true emotions are and acknowledge them, and I resolve to connect with my husband in a respectful, calm manner. I choose not to draw conclusions until I have reconnected with him.
The Stop.Reflect.Connect tool has been a great gift in helping me maintain a generous and loving attitude towards my husband.