Couples, married partners and families are under significant stress as a result of narcissism (selfishness) and excessive anger in the home and in the culture. Excessive anger is one of the major reasons for marital conflict, marital separations and divorce and for conflicts in parent-child, sibling, and in-law relationships. The regular use of forgiveness and other virtues by spouses can resolve angry feelings, thereby protecting and strengthening marital and family relationships.
You can evaluate your loving and marital relationships using these checklists:
- The Marital Friendship and the Self-Giving Checklist. Marital friendship and happiness are dependent upon the ability of spouses to give themselves to each other, to their children, to work, to the care of the home, to relatives and friends and, in Christian marriages, to God. The marital self-giving checklist helps couples evaluate the quality of their marital friendship, romantic relationship and betrothed love.
- Narcissism Checklist. Selfishness is one of the major enemies of married love. This common personality weakness is a major cause of marital anger, conflict and divorce. Unless it is uncovered and resolved by growth in virtues, selfishness will lead spouses to treat loved ones as objects and not as gifted persons.
- Anger Checklist and Fitzgibbons Anger Inventory. Evaluate yourself and your spouse with this Anger Checklist then rate your anger with the Fitzgibbons Anger Inventory which has been in use for nearly 20 years and is the only measure which has been demonstrated in a research study to be a quantitatively valid measure.
All the checklists above were developed by The Institute for Marital Healing at Comprehensive Counseling Services which has worked with several thousand couples since 1976. Established by Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons, the Institute employs a time-tested approach to marital therapy that recognizes the importance of both science and faith in the process of marital healing through a combination of online resources, educational programs and publications.
Dr. Fitzgibbons has worked with Dr. Robert Enright, founder of the International Forgiveness Institute, and the two coauthored a textbook on treating excessive anger in psychiatric disorders Helping Clients Forgive: An Empirical Guide for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope.
Forgiveness: An Invitation to a Second Chance at Love. According to Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D. in Emotional Fitness, forgiveness is an invitation to a second chance at love.
“It can be hard to forgive,” Barton says,” especially if your partner has broken the most solemn of their marriage vows. Surprisingly, infidelity is not necessarily fatal to a relationship. With the appropriate communication, therapy and a willingness to let go, many couples get past it. As strange as it may seem, in some cases, the healing process can actually make a relationship stronger.” Read Dr. Barton’s article “Infidelity and Forgiveness” in Psychology Today.
An in-depth look at marital infidelity and the four phases of the healing process is provided on Dr. Fitzgibbons website.
If you’re really serious about forgiveness in the couples relationship, we encourage you to follow the path to forgiveness that Dr. Enright outlines in his book Forgiveness is a Choice: A Step-by-Step Process for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope.
You’ll also find helpful guidance in “9 Things Forgiveness is Not“ (an excerpt from “Taking Out the Trash,” chapter 5 in the book Real Marriage by Mark Driscoll) and in “5 Ways to Apologize to Someone You Love” (an article on the website Care2 which bills itself as “the largest online community of people passionate about making a difference”).
Forgiveness and Divorce. Here are some simple tips to keep your love for life: “8 ways to divorce-proof your marriage.” If you’ve already gone through a divorce, it may surprise you to learn that one of the most effective tools — especially in emotionally charged, high conflict divorces — is forgiveness. Forgiveness may seem like the last thing you’d want to consider when you are upset with your ex-spouse, but here are “Seven Reasons to Forgive Your Ex” by attorney-mediator Eileen Barker.