Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Forgive for Love

Forgive for Love
By Fred Luskin

"Do you wish to remain with your spouse?
Will you forgive your spouse for what he/she has done and she/he has treated you?
Will you forgive her/him for who he/she is?

Being forgiving will reduce obstacles in your marriage and improve the pleasure of the time you spend together." - Fred Luskin.

Today my husband and I are celebrating our twentieth wedding anniversary, so it is only fitting that I review Forgive for Love -- a book about forgiveness for couples. I really like this book and I plan on asking my spouse to read it with me so we can talk about it together. Note that I will not expect my spouse to do so, I will simply request it and will not get my feelings hurt if he does not want to!

Luskin has been researching and working with individuals and couples who need to forgive. Sometimes the lack of forgiveness has been a major obstacle for the person's healing and moving on while at other times it is simply about dispositional forgiveness: being a more forgiving person. Luskin has written several books on the subject. See my review of Forgive for Good here.

Here are some more quotes/gems from Luskin's book:

Luskin defines forgiveness as the ability to remain at peace when you don't get what you want. The other person's action, no matter how awful, does not compel you to be endlessly miserable, angry or emotionally distraught. Forgiveness brings a sense of peace that allows you to make decisions that are unclouded by bitterness or resentment.

Love is what happens when you stop creating stress by arguing about the imperfections of the person you married. When we spend our lives criticizing them and complaining, we miss out. Luskin's research shows that people who forgive retain their anger but use that ability to be angry more wisely.

What does this have to do with my faith? The church seems to spend a whole lot of time arguing about what genders make a marriage but very little time in helping any married couple stay married much less stay happily married. We do a lot to help couples get married (I always require at least two counseling sessions with couples before officiating at their ceremony) but afterwards... well, we could use some further assistance. I understand that the Roman Catholic church does do post-marital counseling but I think even that is just in the first year (and to have an unmarried priest lead such counseling brings up another long list of questions). Some pastors preach on marriage but it usually entails making sure the husband has all the authority and the women are submissive. What if pastors preached on forgiving each other in our marriage? What if more churches provided marriage retreats that dealt with real issues -- such as forgiving one another? One point Luskin makes is that when we marry someone we are committing ourselves to live with the other person just as they are. We cannot go into a marriage expecting our spouse to act or be a certain way (unbeknownst to them) without experiencing anger, resentment, blame and criticism. Forgiveness is the key. Now, why don't our faith congregations help us in this?

I highly recommend Forgive for Love.

Happy reading!


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