Vulnerable to Goodness

When our lovers offer us goodness or kindness, it is because they choose to do it.  They don’t have to be good or kind, and their gift is the fact that they made those choices when they did not have to.  Human nature is often selfish and insensitive, but we are all capable of also being remarkably generous and kind.  In most marriages, the spouses offer each other more good than bad, but too often we take the good for granted.

The hard truth is that at this very moment your lover could decide that you are not worth any further effort.  You have no power over the decisions your partner makes, and demanding something that he or she does not wish to give is an unenforceable rule.  Our vulnerability to our lovers’ whims makes forgiving them hard, and that is what makes relationships so difficult.  Once we have been hurt, we fear that they could hurt us again.  We worry that they might not change for the better and could even change for the worse.

The overlooked upside is that we are vulnerable to their goodness as well.  And once we start to look, we realize all the good our lovers do.  At the end of the day, the only thing we have power over is how much we ourselves do to help the marriage; we cannot control our lovers’ actions.  The best thing we can do is to use our power to appreciate our lovers so that we have many reasons to forgive them their trespasses and flaws.  You can dramatically improve your chances for success in your relationship if you simply give thanks for being loved numerous times each day.  Try to notice the little things your lover does every day to make the relationship work.  Be thankful for every day he or she tolerates you with all your quirks and wounds.  You want to see your partner’s goodness and forgiveness and honor the effort he or she makes to care for you.  Try to notice your lover’s strengths and good points and kind actions as often as possible.  Tell your lover how lucky you are that he or she chose you for a partner and continues to choose you every single day.

Your marriage will also be helped if you appreciate the gifts of your life together.  Be proud of your home and revel in the bounty of food and clothing and shelter you share.  Honor the achievements of your children and praise your partner for his input and effort.  It is important to realize the preciousness of life and never take it for granted.  Waking up next to a person who loves you is a blessing, so don’t just rush by it.

— Dr. Fred Luskin, Forgive for Love, p. 130-131

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