Winter was a rough season throughout Northeast Ohio. Temperatures struggled to reach zero, snow fell and fell, and fell so more. Winds caused power outages and other damages. Looking back, our marriage saw a bit of a winter season too.
Dr. Gary Smalley writes about the seasons of marriage in correlation to nature's seasons. Winter is about what you would expect: harsh words, disappointment, misunderstandings, hurt feelings and a chill in the air. In our case it wasn't constant, but it was a season. Although it felt endless to both of us at times, it was a time to grow, learn, and practice something that isn't natural in relationships: grace.
Although conflict is a good thing (in moderation) the big struggle is after reconciliation, the enemy (the defeated one) loves to remind couples of all the things that were said in the heat of the moment. Words like.. "You always..." "You never..." "You're just like..." "I swear I'm going to..." "I want to..." "I hate you!"
The enemy of your marriage will also replay the things done during the conflict. Note, he's going to show you what your husband did wrong, painting a very tilted picture of the situation. It's an effort to rile you up so you stay angry, think you've made a mistake, and make choices based on unforgiveness and bitterness.
I know those replay moments were the silent treatment, sarcastic comebacks, eye rolls, the mumble, and walking away. To be fair, I'm sure his movie had me doing the very same things and more.
The true difficulty is when the conflict ends. Those words are swirling like the winter winds. I was holding on to our words so much my jaw ached. I was in a steady state of teeth clenching. There is no grace in that.
So what to do when your marriage feels like March? The polar opposites trapped in one small period of time? Winter. Spring. Pleasant. Nasty. Healed. Wounded. How do you move forward when you feel trapped by the past?
I kept revisiting the eye rolls, sighs, and words that I received as hurtful. I cried out asking how to stop this when I knew we both wanted to move past it. As my mom said to me, "It's okay to look in the rear view mirror, but be careful you don't stare." I needed God's help because I wasn't just staring, I was gripping that rear view mirror. This is the answer God gave to me:
"Remember to forget."
Does that make sense?
For me, I know the sentence means when the memories stir up, I need to stop right then and dismiss them in Jesus' name. The little movie playing in my head, same thing. I need to take out the movie that replays the hurts and frustration and put in a blank video about what is to come. Good memories about to take place because I trust God enough to let the past go.
Remember to forget means I die to myself. It means I surrender the possible victory I was inwardly rooting for. It means I stop that retort mid sentence, bite my tongue, stay silent. I choose choices to build from the conflict and come out better as a couple. I pray grace in my words, my thoughts, my deeds. I refuse any right I think I have to speak negative about or to him. It's following our heavenly Father's example. When our sins are forgotten, it isn't because God has trouble remembering.
He remembers to forget.
On Facebook I asked on my wall what remembering to forget meant to others. For the most part, people who replied agreed. It's choosing to let it go, even if it hurts, even if you are right. A husband responded though, a man married for 42 years. He commented he's had those four decades and prays for 30 more years because he remembers, so she forgets!
His method? In case he's done anything wrong, he makes sure he tells her every night he loves her and apologizes for anything, in his opinion, that he probably did wrong. In addition, he wants to make sure he's not forgotten, so he admits he enjoys aggravating her with love. He says it keeps them both on their toes looking to the future, with her wondering, what's next. Yet another perspective on remember to forget!
I ask you to seek God on this sentence, remember to forget. Are you replaying and giving in to the past more than the future? A cord of three strands can't be broken, so believe God is for you and your husband. He will give you the tools to help and transform your thinking and heart towards your marriage and husband.
One resource that will help you conquer principles like remember to forget is the book, The Love Dare, used in the movie, Fireproof.
The social network affiliated with Take Root and Write, Christian Women Take Roo t, kicks off the Love Dare Challenge Monday, May 4. Whether your marriage is good, great, or barely surviving, we're trusting God to use The Love Dare to transform you and your marriage. For 40 days, I'll facilitate the group through a daily posting highlighting key principles from the book and commentary. Women are able to leave their thoughts, anecdotes, and experiences but is not required.
Our hope is that Christian Women Take Root ( CWTR) members will feel encouraged as they read the book and come to the group knowing they are not alone.
To join the challenge, you need to be a member of Christian Women Take Root. Apply for free membership and upon approval, join the group, The Love Dare challenge. There are many great groups at CWTR, please check them all out.