4 Relationship Attributes to Develop: Lessons from Advent

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4 Relationship Attributes to Develop: Lessons from Advent
Advent traditionally involves 4 small words that can also enhance your relationship.
  • Deep peace is something that happens more internally rather than externally.  As you strive to achieve peace (which is greater than just an absence of conflict but permeates your relationship) you will find more peace and foster more peace by focusing on attitudes rather than particular instances.
  • Repentance and forgiveness are the base for peace.  Peace requires a change in our orientation and both repentance (turning from what we have done wrong) and forgiveness (turning towards the other and the relationship) are key ways of turning in order to move towards where peace may be built.
  • EXERCISE: Explore the negative conflict patterns in your relationship, repent of them, forgive each other and plan positive alternatives for the future.  These areas of needed peace may be around small things that come up over and over again or larger things that act as a block in your relationship.

JOY

  • Joy contains in it a longing.  C. S. Lewis reminded us that “joy is distinct from pleasure” but is really a deeper sense inside of us that longs for the way it will be.  This same type of longing can be felt in the joy in a relationship where there is a desire to remain tied together even as present difficulties are felt.
  • Joy is a response to feeling the presence of something greater than ourselves that is with us, especially as we realize what that greater thing (for Christians in Advent this is God) does with us and our lives.  Do you believe that your relationship is built on anything greater than just the two of you?  Do you believe that God is a partner in your marriage?
  • EXERCISE: Invite God back into your relationship and what you are longing for.  Depending on how similar your faith traditions, there are different ways of doing this.

LOVE

  • To love another person involves caring for them and for what they need to be blessed with even when this is not in your self interest.  While you do not have to give up yourself and your own ideas, this does involve thinking about what the other person needs and helping them to be able to have it.
  • The love described in Advent includes God’s love for a people, including a promise of this love for generations to come.  This focus reminds us that to love is to not necessarily focus on the other’s acts but rather to focus on who they are as a person.  It can be easy to get this backwards and forget why we committed to love another.
  • EXERCISE: Plan to regularly engage in acts that the other person will see as loving.  If you are not clear on how they want you to express your love to them, have a conversation with them about it.

 

Hopefully, these lessons from Advent will help you to enhance your relationship.  Focus on the thoughts and do the exercises.  Do other things to bring depth and intentionality into your relationship.  As you do so, you may find wholeness and peace in your life and in your relationship.

Article contributed by
Advanced Member

The Rev. Christopher L. Smith

Marriage and Family Therapist

The Rev. Christopher L. Smith, LMFT has served as a national leader around mental health issues both within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and in professional counseling organizations.  He works directly with individuals, couples, families and supervisees as the Clinical Director of Seeking Shalom in New York City.  He also brings his insight to help a wider audience through writing, speaking and consultations.

Location: New York, NY
Credentials: LAC, LMFT, LMHC, MDiv
Specialties: Couples/Marital Issues, Forgiveness, Spiritual
Other Articles/News by The Rev. Christopher L. Smith:

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