Have you ever felt one way about a person or situation but were told (or read somewhere), that you needed to feel differently about said person or situation? This was me for a long time. I often had feelings that I did not feel I could express, because I felt bad for some of the real feelings I had. I would shove those negative feelings down and pretend I felt something different. It wasn’t too hard to pretend because there was a real part of me that felt the good, positive feelings too. But I quickly learned that these negative feelings can’t stay buried forever.
While this can happen in any relationship, one of the more pivotal relationships is between husband and wife. In my experience, I can honestly say that my marriage has been the best thing I have done for myself. He was the smartest choice I have made and has been so wonderful to go through life with. There is a lot of love I feel for my husband and the love and care I feel for him is stronger than it was when we first were married. But what if you don’t always feel those positive feelings towards your spouse. Because I have not only felt happy feelings, and it has been important for me to recognize all the feelings I have had not just the positive ones.
You see, I grew up with a message in my head that said I had to be so positive and happy, and that negative feelings were not good to feel and worse was that I was wrong for feeling them. As a young teenager, that translated to, “only focus on the positive so you aren’t wrong for feeling negative feelings/thoughts”. This was very unhealthy for me. Later in life, I learned how to validate my own feelings and experiences I was having. According to Oxford dictionaries, validation means: “Recognition or affirmation that a person or their feelings or opinions are valid or worthwhile. Once I gave space for my real feelings, I could then work on changing the situations I was in. I could then authentically see the good and have a whole better picture of the situation. Lots of people learn how to do this when they are much younger, but for some reason, I did not learn that.
Recently, I read an article from Henry B Eyring, titled, “Our Perfect Example”. In this article, he says to “Pray for the love which allows you to see the good in you companion”. I loved this phrase so much. For one, it reminds me that I need to always pray to see the good, because let’s be real, I do forget sometimes. And two, it reminds me of the beauty in seeing a whole person, flaws and all, and still choosing to love that person. I love this idea so much! To love someone for all of who they are, and not just the picture-perfect view I used to think I could feel. I love this idea. I have extended that to several relationships in my life, and it has brought greater peace than I thought was available. Important side note, loving someone does not mean to also be a doormat to harmful behaviors, those can be dealt with and addressed in a kind way, it’s called using boundaries. But when I have charity and love in my heart, it helps all those conversations too.
Dear Reader, acknowledge all your feelings. You do not have to sit in them forever at all, but just acknowledging that they exist and then choosing to love anyway, is freeing. It feels good to feel what you feel, and then allow Jesus to help change your heart. This goes for any relationship, but especially your spouse. For this relationship has the best opportunity for real connection and love. And then next, pray to see all the good in your companion, because it’s there waiting to be found.
Henry B Eyring. “Our Perfect Example”. 2009 General Conference. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2009/10/our-perfect-example?lang=eng (Links to an external site.)