Are you STILL angry?

Intimacy is the fuel that powers every couple’s emotional engine. It’s what makes your relationship special – those moments when you catch each other’s eye and laugh because you share an inside joke. It’s when you can ride in the car together in comfortable silence, or unashamedly sing a duet to “your song” playing on the radio. It’s getting excited to tell each other good news or needing to reach out to each other if there is bad news. It’s having someone who knows you inside and out and still loves and accepts you.

If this doesn’t sound like what you want in your marriage, and if you want a proven formula for killing intimacy in your relationship, here it is: Get angry at your spouse and never let it go. Rehearse this line, “I will never forgive…”

It is sad that many people experience a lack of intimacy in their marriages because of the negative emotions they harbor toward their spouse. I once counseled a woman who would not let go of the anger she felt toward her husband because of a mistake he made in their marriage over 40 years ago! She held on to the bitterness and allowed it to cast a shadow over their relationship all that time. She chose to live a miserable life rather than to forgive him.

We know that the feelings of love change over time as a relationship matures – like a fire that burns hot at first and then settles into a warm glow. It’s a natural progression. Now, think about your own marriage. Notice if you still feel love, friendship, trust and warmth toward your spouse. If not, you may be wondering what has happened to the joy and closeness you once shared in your marriage. It may be time to ask yourself if it is possible that you are holding on to bitterness and resentment toward your spouse because you have felt abandoned or betrayed, possibly beginning many years ago.

The reality of a committed relationship is that, sooner or later, one or both of you will hurt or disappoint the other. Sometimes those offenses are very serious and the pain is very deep. Other times it can be an unresolved “pet peeve” that was never effectively addressed. No matter now minor or severe the offense, perhaps it is time to let go, forgive, and move forward.

That may not be a simple or quick process, but I can assure you, it is worth your time and effort. It will require honest communication about what you are angry about and how it makes you feel. Admit if your response has been counterproductive or unkind, and commit to a fresh start. When discussing issues that may blow up with angry arguments, I highly recommend enlisting the help of a professional marriage therapist.

Many people are reluctant to discuss past hurts because it makes them feel vulnerable, angry, foolish, frustrated or childish. But, if that hurt is still creeping in to your life today, it is time to clear the air.

When you choose to release yourself from the bondage of unresolved anger, your heart and mind are once again open to giving and receiving love. And, isn’t that the goal? True intimacy in marriage comes when resentments give way to forgiveness, and forgiveness opens the door to lasting love.

Live, Work and Relate Well!

Dr. Todd

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