Chapter 9: Recreating the Relationship Part IV: Spirituality & Forgiveness
Chapter 9 Summary: Spirituality and Forgiveness
If the primary dynamic of couple relationships is love, and if we are of the belief that God is love, it would make great sense to find a meaningful place for spirituality in the development of couple relationships. In this chapter Martin outlines roles for spirituality and forgiveness within couple relationships. Spirituality is all about God with us in whatever specific terms we may choose to express our experience of God. It can be a spiritual experience for couples to share emotional and physical intimacy, to give birth to a child, to share honestly with each other, to care for frail parents, partners and children, to give and receive love and forgiveness. Spirituality may be one of the untapped springs of change and healing in couple relationships. The essential purpose of spirituality is to liberate us from clinging to a narrow, conditioned, self-defined perception established by our past, like old wounds of depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress, anger management, and more.
The longing to know another and the desire to be known by another are powerful indeed. Authenticity and empathy are necessary couple values. The best thing about marriage is that my partner knows me and the worst thing about marriage is that my partner knows me. To truly know my partner can mean going to couples counselling.
No couple escapes conflict and frustration within the relationship and partners needs to seek and grant forgiveness in order to re-establish peace at various points along their journey. The hardest offenses to forgive are those that touch my own past family of origin wounds, for unredeemed wounds are usually covered in strong defensive reactions. Partners need a strong sense of individuation and connectedness to accept their faults and vulnerabilities, and, at times, marriage therapy. Forgiveness is seen more as internal and intrapersonal while reconciliation is interpersonal. Forgiveness is granted while reconciliation needs to be achieved. Forgiveness is often followed by reconciliation but not always. Martin outlines a seven step process that moves from forgiveness to reconciliation. These steps are depicted as 1)impact; 2) know thyself again; 3) decision to forgive: 4) opening the couple dialogue; 5) conversations of forgiveness and reconciliation; 6) discovering new meaning in old wounds; and 7) a new future.