Guest blogging today is Rhonda’s dear friend and author: Cindi McMenamin

Would you classify yourself as a tosser or a keeper?

My husband, Hugh, and I had this conversation more than 30 years ago while we were dating and talking of marriage. Because he and I both descended from and grew up around keepers – people who spent a life time amassing stuff and rarely got rid of anything – we were determined once we got married to be tossers. We would collect only adventures, experiences, and memories that added to the value of our lives, not stuff that would take up space.

Through the years, Hugh and I have strayed a bit from that goal we made when we married. I ended up collecting a few too many Cinderella dolls and let’s just say we could make a fortune if we sold all of his Star Trek memorability on ebay! Yet the real conversation we should’ve had before we married is whether we were tossers or keepers when it came to our hurts and offenses.

One who is a tosser when it comes to offenses is someone who can forgive and move on. One who is a keeper, is one who can’t let the hurt or offenses go.

Which One are You?
Are you a tosser or a keeper when it comes to offenses in your marriage? For example:

  • Do you get irritated by something your husband continually does?
  • Do the two of you tend to argue about the same issues or bring up an issue after the two of you have already resolved it?
  • Does your mind often return to past pain or offenses?
  • Do you get “triggered” by words or phrases and respond negatively, causing your husband to look at you and wonder what it was he said?

If you answered “yes” to a few of those questions, here are some helpful hints for keeping offenses from hurting your marriage so you can experience more trust, more passion, and more communication with your husband:

  1. Identify what triggers pain in your life. A friend of mine, who is a licensed marriage and family therapist and sees women and couples in her practice every day, told me that people often react the way they do out of their pain. Certain words or situations will trigger pain in us and we end up reacting defensively. We get triggered and then we believe the lie – for example, that we’re not valued or we’re alone or we’re not appreciated or respected. The first step is recognition. We have to recognize and identify what is causing our pain. And most of the time your spouse is not the root of the problem. The problem is often connected to past wounds or present pain in your own life. What triggers your pain? Is it the fear of being rejected? The fear of abandonment? The feeling that you’re being criticized or devalued? Do you get triggered by the idea that you are suffering by comparison or not measuring up to one’s expectations? Identify your fear and your pain. Name it. And then move on to the next step.
  2. Surrender your pain to the Only One who can heal it. Jesus is our only risk-free, safe place. When we expect someone else to give us value or security or significance or heal our pain they will fail every time. We can only find that deep sense of security and fulfillment from the Maker of our soul. Let Him heal those deep wounds in your heart.
  3. Know your true identity so you can combat the lies. As you become aware of Whose you are – a child of the living God – and your identity in that deepens, you have a greater capacity to filter offenses and become more emotionally tuned in, understanding, and accepting of your husband. It is then that you can realize you may have acted poorly and the problem isn’t really with him.
  4. Practice grace and forgiveness. To show our husbands grace and forgiveness, we need to let go of our pride, and our insistence on being right, and humble ourselves. Colossians 3:13 tells us to “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
  5. Leave the past where it belongs. Being able to “bury the hatchet” is essential to staying strong in your marriage. Leave the past in the past and if it has been resolved, leave the old issues out of new discussions.

Scripture warns us in Proverbs 4:23 to guard our hearts so they don’t harden:

Above all else, guard your heart,
    

for everything you do flows from it (NIV).

I believe we are told in this verse to not only guard what we let into our hearts, but to guard our hearts, themselves, from hardening so they don’t become a harbor for our hurts, resentments, and eventually bitterness.

Keep your heart guarded, softened, flexible, and forgiving. Instead of holding onto hurts and harboring them in your heart, learn how to freely let them go. When you become a tosser, not a keeper, when it comes to offenses in your marriage, you will experience more trust, more passion and more communication with your husband.

Did Cindi’s post help you? Leave a comment below (along with the U.S. state where you live) and you could win a free copy of Cindi’s new book, 12 Ways to Experience More with Your Husband. The winner will be notified next week via email. U.S. mailing addresses only please.

Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and author of 17 books who has been married 30 years to a pastor and introvert. Her newest book, 12 Ways to Experience More with Your Husband, released this month from Harvest House Publishers. Grab it at a special introductory sale price today or find more resources to strengthen your walk with God, your marriage, or your parenting, at her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com. 

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