Ada — I want to do a series on recovering damaged relationships. As many of you may know, I moved here from Tulsa. Tulsa has had the sad distinction of being the divorce capitol of Oklahoma. It has been reported as having the highest divorce rate of any city in the nation — second only to Las Vegas. It has reported a divorce rate of 123 percent. The average for our nation as a whole is about 50 percent.
How do you successfully recover a relationship that has been damaged by years of abuse, neglect, or betrayal? To begin with. you must have two people who are absolutely committed to recovering. They both must be certain that they want the relationship, and they both must be willing to do whatever it takes to make the relationship work. Without this certainty, and without this absolute commitment, it will be impossible to do the hard work necessary for recovery.
Last week we discussed the power of one person to create change in a system. That principle is still true. I just have not seen a marriage be able to recover from recent or longstanding trauma without both partners working incredibly hard.
Once everyone is on board with an absolute commitment to the relationship and the hard work ahead, the first task to begin is the healing of old hurts. Without the healing of hurts from the past, it is difficult to have the energy for recovery you need in the present.
Lewis Smedes in Forgive and Forget has done the best job to date in explaining the practical concepts of forgiveness, and the concrete how-to of forgiving someone else. He identifies four principles and one very specific technique for forgiving someone else. All of these principles and the practical technique of forgiveness can be found in reading only the first three chapters of his book.