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How Do You Relate? As Friends, Partners, Lovers, or All Three?

ID-100138616On our last post How Are You Two Related, I started talking about how in every marriage we have different and unique ways of connecting with our spouse. And that the important thing was to find your connection points and work from your place of strength as you work to improve other ways to connect with each other.

On this post I want to start taking a look at how we relate to our spouse in three major categories; friendship, partnership, and lovers. As far as I can tell, any connection we have with our spouse will always fit into one or more of these areas. But the challenge we face is understanding how to move in and out of each area and how to find good balance of all three ways of connection.

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When is it Okay to Talk About Past Hurts?

“The past should be left in the past.” I’m sure many of us have heard this at some point in our marriage. I’m sure many of us have said this ourselves at some point. But the question is: is it ever possible to talk about the past and the hurts from our past? And if it is, when is it okay to talk about it and when is it not okay and how do you know the difference?


We have had this discussion many times with couples in our marriage class. And it is from our own experience that we give some very simple advice on the subject. Because for years when our own marriage was suffering, I was always the one who said the past should be left in the past. I never wanted to talk about the past. I felt it would stir things up and cause a huge argument. And it was because I had already asked for forgiveness for what I did. I didn’t like having my past held against me.

But along the way I learned a very valuable lesson. It was after the fourth and final time our marriage had reached its breaking point. We were in a state of limbo. We were still living in the same home, but our marriage was in trouble and it looked hopeless as I tried to convince Janet to not give up. She said she wanted out of our marriage and so we were planning to break up in a way that would not hurt our children. And as it turned out, our trying to plan for the right timing bought us time to fix what was wrong.

We went on to spend a year and a half in that limbo state. There were times when it looked like we would stay together and there were times when we lost all hope. I even moved out twice during that time, only to move back in a day later. It was a crazy and extremely difficult time. But the blessing of that time was, we began talking in a way we had never talked before. We weren’t arguing or fighting anymore. Instead, we became very open and honest with each other. We kept finding ourselves talking about the past. Only, this time when we really talked about the past it was like we were unraveling a mystery, the mystery of what had gone wrong with our marriage.

We now thank God for that year and a half we spent talking like that. We know it was His grace working in our lives that helped us recover from our past hurts and rebuild a solid foundation for our marriage. And so it is from that experience that I know there is a place where couples need to talk about their past and any unresolved hurts from the past.

So, when is it okay to talk about past hurts?

I have two simple rules I give to couples on this issue.

1) You have to walk in forgiveness at all times.

  • Forgiveness is a choice. You choose to forgive what you already know about the past and you choose to forgive ahead of time anything you learn about the past once you start talking about it.
  • Forgiveness is also a gift. You have to be willing to freely give forgiveness without expecting your spouse to somehow earn your forgiveness.
  • Forgiveness opens the door. If you want a really deep intimate relationship with your spouse, you will find that talking about your past hurts can bring healing and closeness in a way you have never had before, but you have to walk in forgiveness to get there.
  • Ask for forgiveness. In places where you are the one that has hurt your spouse, don’t demand that they forgive. Humble yourself and ask for their forgiveness.

2) Are you using the past as a weapon or a tool? 

Never use the past as a weapon.

This happens so many times during conflicts out of hurt or anger. One spouse brings up the past in the conflict to gain an advantage over the other. It’s also used to hold the other spouse in permanent punishment for what they did. Which also goes back to the forgiveness issue. Sometimes this weapon will show up as a dagger. It’s used to give little jabs at the other person just so they never forget what they did.

You can use the past as a tool.

A tool is something that will help you build a better marriage. Anytime you are able to sit down and have an in-depth conversation about one another’s feelings you are working in a positive manner to build a strong marriage. Even if those feelings are about something from the past.

Just because something from the past has been forgiven does not mean the hurt from it has been completely healed and often when the pain is deep there is a struggle to forgive. That is why it is so important to be open to discussing the past. Our goal should be to help our spouse heal and if that means being vulnerable enough to discuss the past, then that is what we must do. We should never be so eager to move on from the past that we neglect to help our spouse through their own journey of healing.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net  

Is Your Patience Running Thin?

For many years I struggled with loving my wife. I could always say it and most of the time I felt it, but the challenge for me was knowing how to show it in a consistent way that made sense. Even when I thought I was showing love in one way, my other actions would contradict me and cause Janet to question if I really loved her or not.


One of the problems I had with loving my wife and my children was the way I would lose my patience with them. They just never knew when my patience would run out and I would turn on them in some sort of harsh demanding way. I didn’t want to treat them badly and I had no excuse for it. So I just blamed it on my lack of patience.

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Tips to Keep Your Marriage from Drifting Apart

Couples sometimes need some help to keep their love from fading and their relationship from drifting apart. Drifting apart is all too real for so many couples and I would go so far to say, it is something that happens to all couples at one time or another.

drift apart

The key is knowing why it happens and what you can do to change it.

Why do we drift?

The bible teaches us, (Gen.2:24) that marriage requires for a man and a woman to be joined together, and they become one flesh.  The KJV bible uses the word cleave for joined together. Other translations use the words embraces, united, and cling. The picture here is that the covenant marriage relationship is to create a bond of oneness that is so tight there can be no separating what used to be two.

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Becoming Best Friends for Life

How did we go from having a really bad marriage for twenty years to a marriage that has become everything we had hoped for? Well first of all, it took God’s grace, some counseling, and a lot of work. But along the way we discovered something very powerful, something we had lost through all of the fighting and communication breakdowns, we discovered how to be friends again. And the truth is we discovered how to be friends in a way we had never been before.

A funny thing happened along the way as we were making plans to split up for the last time. It was the night before Thanksgiving when we had our last big argument that ended with “we will just get a divorce.” But by the next day as we worked on the details of what we would do, we made a plan to wait until after Christmas and our son’s birthday in late December. It was then that we started behaving like mature adults. We were both hurting and we were sad, but we started to cherish our last remaining days together.

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