The desperation I felt to save our marriage was tremendous. I had waited so long for signs of hope and yet so many times it seemed my hopes were dashed. I had no problem accepting the fact that I had hurt our marriage. So all I could think of was trying to find some way to fix the problems I helped create.
After a good while into our last separation, my wife finally decided to go see a counselor. There were a lot of issues she had been dealing with from her childhood and she finally reached a point where she said enough is enough. She wanted the stuff that had tormented her all of her life to be gone once and for all.
Needless to say, I was all for this bold step she was taking. I also knew how much torment she had been living with and I believed her childhood trauma played a huge role in the difficulties we faced in our marriage.
Then after a few sessions of counseling Janet began talking and acting differently. She seemed to have new hope for her life, which gave me renewed hope. Only by then I also began to lose patience. I was so insecure about our relationship, I was anxious for the two of us to go see the counselor together so we could get our marriage back on track.
But with every attempt, I made to pressure her I receive immediate push back. She continues to insist that it wasn’t time to work on us yet. Of course, that didn’t sit well with me, so after I backed off for a moment I would soon find a way to make my demand on her again.
Until one day when Janet come home from the counselor and after she shared a little about her meeting, I couldn’t resist the same old question. “When is she going to talk to us both about our marriage?” I asked. Only this time she was ready with an answer that comes straight from her counselor as a direct reply to me in case I came at her with this again.
She said she was told by her counselor to tell me, “If I don’t work on me there will be no we.” Her counselor also said, “he will either get on board or he will get off.” It wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but somehow knowing it came from her counselor I knew enough to finally leave it alone. I would just have to wait this thing out and hope for the best. As it turned out, that was a very valuable lesson on our journey of healing in our marriage.
It was a lesson we have shared with so many of the couples we minister to. Because the truth of this lesson holds true for many couples who are hurting. Although there can be a large variety of issues that cause a marriage to struggle, it is also true that at the heart of all of those issues is the brokenness inside each individual. And as the old saying says, “hurting people hurt people.”
No matter what is going on in the marriage that should be fixed there must be an understanding in order to heal the marriage healing in the individuals must come first. Because it is absolutely impossible to have a healthy marriage that is growing in oneness while one or both partners are suffering from some deep wounds from their past. Now it is possible to have a marriage that is surviving and has learned how to cope with dysfunction, but there will always be limitations in the marriage until the individuals are healthy and whole.
For the hurting
If you are reading this and you are the one who is hurting from deep emotional pain, I want to encourage you. You can get through this and you can be healed from the past that has been haunting you. You can have the life you always wanted but always seemed out of reach.
But there are some important truths I must share with you. And I hope you will trust that this is my attempt to do as the bible says, “speak the truth in love.”
First, you have to stop running. Trying to move from one situation to another or one relationship to another will never fix your pain. In fact, it only makes your pain worst. Because with every failed relationship you will carry the emotional hangover of that relationship along with all of the other pain you carry. And no amount of blaming your spouse for their failure will ever relieve your conscience of your own.
Second, beware of the greener grass syndrome. We have all heard a variety of cliches about greener grass, but there is actually a lot of truth in them. Because greener grass always requires work. So if you’re going to have to work to get the relationship and the life you really want, you need to know it would be a lot better if you do the work now with the relationship you already have.
Third, another relationship will not solve your problems. There will never be another relationship that will take away all of your pain apart from your relationship with the Lord. And to put your emotional well-being into another flawed human being is simply unrealistic and unfair to anyone else.
Fourth, get some help. Ultimately your healing has to come through your relationship with the Lord. It is only through His supernatural work within you that you will ever experience the healing you long for. But very often when there is deep emotional pain there needs to be some help from someone who has been trained in ministering and counseling.
There are lots of resources available out there, just be careful who you turn to. As a believer, you will want someone who has sound biblical counsel to guide you. It may be best to go with someone who is recommended by those you trust. If you need help in finding someone, you can get in touch with us and we will try to help you find the help you need.
For the spouse of the one who is hurting
Now a brief word for those who are experiencing what I went through. I know this is a difficult time for you and just like me, you want to know when your marriage will be healed. But this is a process that must not be avoided for the health of your spouse and the hope of your marriage. You will have to do everything you possibly can to put your spouse’s emotional needs above that of your own right now.
Be supportive and patient with your spouse while at the same time back off from any type of pressuring your spouse. The healing process is a difficult process that must be done in a safe place. Any attempt from you to push this process will cause your spouse to feel unsafe and will cause a disruption in the process and will cause your spouse to pull away from you further.
Finally, be like Jesus but don’t try to be Jesus. It is your job to do all you can to demonstrate the Love of God to your spouse. But at the same time, you must not fall into some idea that your love alone can heal all of your spouse’s pain. While the Lord will use your love as a demonstration of His love, there must be no mistaking that it is only through a relationship with the Lord that your spouse will truly experience real and lasting healing.