Theologians, pastors, and psychological help-providers have not always worked harmoniously. This can be especially true with couples. Theological and pastoral help-providers value marriage as sacred and are reluctant to entertain ending it. Most psychotherapists have more training and experience in individual psychotherapy than in couple therapy. Drawing on the parable of the Good Samaritan, we appeal to theologians, pastors, and psychological help-givers to work together. We examine ways that psychological findings might inform theology and pastoral practice. As an example, we use forgiveness in committed romantic relationships. What causes strong couple relationships are the formation, strengthening, maintenance, and (when damaged) repair of ruptures in the emotional bond. Thus, forgiveness is one major cause of good marriage. Forgiveness requires being oriented toward the other person’s welfare, and in humility responding to wrongdoing mercifully. Forgiving in committed relationships seeks a net positive emotional valence toward the partner built on empathy, humility, and responsibility. Good relationships also involve self-forgiveness when one feels self-condemnation over one’s own misdeeds. For help-givers, humility is a key to promoting relational experiences of virtue. We show that forgiveness is related to health. Religiously oriented help-providers can promote better relationships and better health by fostering forgiveness.
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