This is a preview. The full article appears in Neil's book: Love, Sex and Staying Warm: Creating a Vital Relationship
Dear Neil: I wonder if you would address the situation of marital rape. This happened to me many years ago (once). I am a senior now and still have not been able to put this behind me. I still resent my husband deeply, along with his many lies and deceits. He does none of these now, but I believe I should have left him long ago. I still consider leaving him.
Still Resentful in London, Ontario
Dear Still Resentful: It sounds as if you may be needing to simply talk about what occurred in the past, and the hurt, pain and anguish that incident has caused you—and that you still feel all these years later. You may also be needing to hear an apology, perhaps you want him to make an amend to you.
But regardless of what your husband does or does not do, you yourself have a big problem, because people who can’t let go of their resentment usually become bitter and angry, and remain bitter for the rest of their lives. The Buddha identified this dynamic saying that a person that harbors anger is similar to someone picking up a red hot coal in his/her fingers, getting ready to throw it. You are the one who is more likely to be burned by that coal, not the other person. And in the meantime, it’s your quality of life, happiness and spirit that is hurt, not the other person’s.
Author Ron Potter-Efron advises us to ask the following questions regarding our resentments: If you weren’t so resentful, how would your life be different? What do you say or do to keep youself resentful? What thoughts do you have that keep stirring in you? How much of your time has this taken through the years? How much are you ruminating about how burnt you feel? How many of your personal fantasies are related to retribution, punishing or getting even?
The solution all this resentment and rumination is to find a way to come to forgiveness. Genuine forgiveness is a shared venture, an exchange between two people, says Janice Abrams Spring in the book How Can I Forgive You? (Perennial Currents).
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