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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Unhealed Marriage Wounds

Welcome to Part Four of our take on James MacDonald's "Five Logs On The Negativity Fire".

We've covered the Critical Eye, Wrong Expectations, and Toxic Friends.

Today we'll look at unresolved hurts.

Marriage is in many ways the most potentially painful relationship we'll ever experience. To fully experience the potential depth of joy and fulfillment, we have to open ourselves emotionally...and that means being open to hurt.

Your spouse will know you better than any living human being. He or she will know what makes you happy, and what makes you sad. Your "hot buttons" are no secret.

We hope for that knowledge to be used wisely, and with care.

But sometimes it's not. In marriage, we can easily hurt one another without meaning to, when we concentrate on the "i" rather than the "we".

And sometimes we hurt one another deliberately, like a gut-shot hyena snapping at its own entrails.

The resilience bought by an enduring relationship can help us see these accidental and deliberate woundings in their proper perspective, as aberrations that can safely be ignored, after we've gotten past the shock.

The love's still there, but sometimes the person to who we're married is an idiot, and so can we be. We forgive, to be forgiven.

But sometimes the hurts go deep. Sometimes an offhand remark can shred self-esteem, and take on a life of its own. A comment delivered in the flush of anger might be forgotten by the person who said it, but it's words of fire on the soul of the recipient.

An unhealed wound on the soul.

Any cut or laceration heals from the inside out, as tissue granulates at the bottom of the cut, building layers of clean skin. That's why we're advised to keep deep cuts open, under a loose bandage. This allows air to circulate through the wound, and the really nasty bacteria - anaerobic bacteria - do not like fresh air.

If the outer layers of skin heal first, it may look okay for awhile, but underneath, infection can build. The wound is cut off from the atmosphere, and the anaerobic bacteria has its day in the sun...or the shade, as it were.

Same thing applies to emotional hurts. If we are cut deeply to the heart, we can't just "suck it up and put on a happy face". It may work for awhile, to get us through a family reunion or a busy Christmas, but the infection's there, festering in the dark.

We need resolution.

Now, this does not imply that we require confrontation., or even discussion of the hurt.

We've got to become our own immune system, and heal from the inside. We have to look at the wound we've received in the context of our marriage, and first ask - was this serious, or did my mate just have a stupid and cruel moment. Am I overreacting?

Often, we are. It's human nature to love drama, and to sometimes be the lead character in our own little soap opera. Step back, throw in some humor, and the healing begins.

Sometimes it's worse; sometimes the hurt was deliberate, aimed at a weak spot, or an accident that smashed one of our vulnerabilities.

It's often good to talk with our mate about something in this category (and to consider enlisting the aid of a counselor, if the hurt was bad enough or the relationship fragile). We may find that we took what was intended as a constructive and small criticism and blew it out of proportion by constantly stirring the pot, thinking about it.

But be that as it may, the responsibility for healing is still ours. We have to find the resolution for our own hurts.

We have to take ownership of our wounds, and of our healing. Our spouses can support us, the can love us (and they can hurt us), but we should never ask them to do what we can and must do for ourselves.

Good advice, eh? The question is...how?

After we've gone through the analysis, the discussions, and even the counseling, there's only one real answer, and it is a one-size-fits-all.

Stop stirring the pot.

You've got to be aware of your thoughts, and put them under discipline. When you find yourself going "there", face it. Don't beat yourself up, because you are going to go there.

Just recognize it, and tell your mind to turn away. At firs, it'll resist. It'll kick and sceam and say, "But it was so unfair!"

Yes, maybe it was. Past tense. Was.

But today is a new day, and this is the dawn of disciplined thinking.

We need discipline to keep a wound clean, and sometimes the process hurts. Any wound.

And then we heal.

Please share with us - how do you resolve wounds you've received from your mate?

This post is linked to Wedded Wednesday, a compendium of really cool posts on marriage. If you click on the logo below, you'll be taken to www.messymarriage.com, which is the springboard to a wealth of information.


  1. What a great post! Andrew, I must admit that I stir the pot at times leaving my husband even more frustrated. I need to remember like you stated it "WAS" but today is a new day!

    1. Thanks, Delora!

      It's something we all do - letting go of a past hurt is one of the hardest things we can learn to do.

      Remember what jesus said - "See, I make everything new."

      Enlist His help, and it'll be easier.

  2. I love this topic. So important to self discovery and keeping your marriage healthy. I'm a big fan of James MacDonald. Sometimes it is hard to be "naked" in front of your spouse with all your flaws, but when you can be open and honest, and then be accepted and unconditionally loved for who you are, this is when you are truly known. You don't get here with "I Do" - it takes time.

    1. It does take time - we tend to want the acceptance and unconditional love from the exchange of vows, the way Hollywood paint it.

      But it doesn't work that way. It takes time to open up and be 'naked', and time for a spouse to accept and love that nakedness for what it is, not what he or she imagines it is, or might be.