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The Wife Who Repented

By Dr. Don Dunlap
Pastoral Counselor
When we are wounded emotionally, we cannot see a situation from God’s perspective. -

The Forgiveness Series – Article 20 of 71

This is the second part of a case study of a woman driven to attempt suicide after being hurt by her husband. Dr. Dunlap explains how wallowing in hurt and self-pity robs us of the freedom that can be ours when we forgive others. Whether our conflict is with a neighbor, a work associate or a spouse, if we continue to nurse our wounded emotions, we can be certain that we do not have God’s perspective in the matter and we have not yet responded properly to the situation.

In the last segment, we were introduced to a woman who was so depressed that she attempted suicide. The women in her group therapy session had advised her to assert herself as a wife and to present her husband with a list of demands and expectations. Her   husband’s unresponsive attitude discouraged, and she soon grew so despondent that she tried to take her life.

She had deeply resented her husband for years.

When her psychiatrist released her from the psychiatric ward, he sent her to her family physician. The physician referred the woman to me for counseling. I quickly perceived that she was deeply resentful towards her husband, so we began to review the principles of biblical forgiveness. It soon became clear to me that she had harbored feelings of anger and hurt towards him for years.

I commonly encounter counselees who have been bitter and resentful for decades. Whether our conflict is with a neighbor, an   associate at work, or a marriage partner, we harm ourselves by nursing wounded emotions. Such behavior indicates that we do not have God’s perspective, and we have not yet responded properly to the situation.

I asked her to fill out a list of 110 things wives do to destroy their marriage.

The first thing that I asked this wife to do was a homework assignment. She was to take home with her a list that I developed which includes 110 things that wives do to hurt, frustrate, irritate and offend their husbands. I told her, “For the next seven days, don’t think about any of the things that your husband has done to offend you. Instead, I want you to come before God with this list and ask him to reveal to you all the things that you have done to contribute to your marriage problems.”

We read in the Bible, “Neither God nor man despise a broken, contrite, humble spirit.”

I told her that after she had gone through this checklist I wanted her to write out all her offenses in detail in order to prepare herself to ask her husband’s forgiveness for each offense. I encouraged her to be very thorough in this exercise. I have never seen a counselee write too much when he or she goes through this list. The problem is that some counselees do not write enough. They flippantly gloss over their sin, and their repentance is incomplete and insincere.

When she came back the next week she seemed to be transformed.

She returned for her appointment the following week with a vastly different attitude. The Holy Spirit had begun to convict her heart, and she was humbled. Her husband still lived in their home, marking time waiting for an apartment to come available. Although I had no idea whether or not he would be responsive, I advised her to phone her husband and invite him to meet with us.

She called him at work and said, “I know that the last time I asked you to meet with me our talk did not go well. I will understand if you choose not to meet with me again, but I want you to know that God has convicted me of how wrong my attitudes and actions toward you have been. I have asked the Lord to forgive me, and I would be so grateful if you would give me the opportunity to sit down with you one last time to ask you to forgive me for what I’ve done.”

He agreed to meet with her, and God began a healing process in their relationship that eventually led to their reconciliation.

Dr. Don Dunlap, a pioneer in the placement of Pastoral Counselors in the offices of Christian physicians, has conducted over twenty thousand appointments during his ministerial career. His counseling practice includes adults, children and families in crisis. Dr. Dunlap is committed to facilitating a network of telephone counselors. His goal is to provide help for the many people unable to meet face to face with a competent Bible-based counselor. For a complete library of Dr. Dunlap’s articles, indexed by topic, go to Family Counseling Ministries. You may also make a telephone appointment for personal counseling by clicking on Family Counseling Ministries. Family Counseling Ministries is a ministry Partner.

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