I sat in the counselor’s office talking about marriage problems. Not just my own, but the whole historic issues that men and women face. We theorized and philosophized, but there were no easy answers as to why men and women struggle, until he shared one statement that made all the sense in the world.
|Photo: Brenda Lamothe Coulomme
He said: “There can be no healing in a marriage until each person owns his or her own stuff.”
That was it. Such an easy answer, but such a hard thing to do.
If both partners in a relationship can own up to what they do right and wrong it will stop most of the problems and pain. It is hard to be angry and frustrated at someone who is admitting his or her part of “dance.”
Most couples stay in constant trouble because one or both are not willing to “own” what he or she contributes to the mix of marriage.
All of a sudden James’ instruction for healing makes sense. Not just for a person with a physical illness, but for a couple with a marriage illness. He said: “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).
Confess…that’s “Owning One’s Own Stuff.” According to James when we “Own Our Stuff” we can be healed.
Confession works. I recently talked with someone who had been abused by his father so badly when he was a boy that he had to run away to save his life. He had terrible memories of beatings, bruises and blood. Yet, he said that if his father ever comes to him and apologizes he will forgive him. That’s the amazing healing power of “Owning Our Own Stuff.”
And praying. James says we are to confess to each other and pray for each other. How many couples do that when they have a disagreement? It’s very hard for a couple to stay angry with each other when they are praying together. Try it.
But, unfortunately many couples choose rather to remain angry and hold resentments. They hold on to each other’s “stuff” and forget to own their own “stuff.”
So, perhaps the first prayer we all need to pray is asking God for the grace and courage to “fess up” and “own up” so we can “heal up.”