What they tell you, but don’t really tell you about marriage is that in order to make it to the “til death do us part,” phase, forgiveness is the only route. And when I say forgiveness, I mean “gut- wrenching-don’t-know-if- you-could-ever-look-at-them-the-same-heart bleeding,” forgiveness.
It’s not for the weak, that’s for sure. I tell the couples that I counsel, “If you’re happy everyday with your spouse, you aren’t married. Come back when you’re married.”
I truly believe in marriage and I love having a husband, but there are days, (sometimes weeks) that I’d like nothing more than to put on my Nike’s and just do it…run! However I know that unless my safety is at risk (my deal breaker), I have to take the alotted time to get to that other side and forgive.
I struggle with forgiveness because I have a filter that says, “forgiveness means hurt me again.” I know myself enough to know that my filters are not always true and sometimes a hinder to my personal success. I owe it to myself to challenge them. I challenge my filters by seeking out proof that whatever I fear is a lie and that whatever I’m avoiding, can alternatively be a source of happiness for me. My life is living proof of that.
So, if you’ve ever been hurt in your marriage and find yourself shackled by the anger that comes with disappointments, here are:
5 Ways to Help You Heal When Hurt is Present.
1. Take care of yourself
A lot of times when people get emotionally hurt, they look for quick fixes or ways to not feel the pain at all so other people can stay comfortable. This is unhealthy and unkind to your heart, literally. Stress occurs when there is a conflict between what we want to do and what we are capable of doing. This is the time to look at what one is capable of doing and leave it there. If you need to pray, pray. If you need time alone, take it. If you want to scream, cry, or shout, go for it. Don’t let anyone tell you that your pain isn’t valid and that you should move on. Sit still, get it out, be kind to your immune system. Reality is, when you give your emotions a voice, they will simmer down and allow you to move to the next phase of your life appropriately. Emotions are the worse, when they are ignored, downplayed or avoided. Don’t do this to yourself. Your emotions will come back with a vengeance and you’ll find yourself medicating or using maladaptive behaviors to control them.
2. Give time, time
They say time heals all wounds and that’s a lie. The concept of time itself does not heal all wounds. Time spent healing, heals all wounds. Being hurt repeatedly and not healing, develops a sense of learned helplessness or a state in which a person has lost all hope for progression, so they quit trying. This ultimately leads to depression. Can you imagine, being hurt and just sitting there doing nothing about it? It’s like a request for ‘arthritis of the heart.’
Give the concept of bad timing, good energy. This is what really heals all wounds. Get up, move around, read books about whatever it is that hurt you, figure out why it hurt you as much as it did, because that’s where the problem really lies.
3. Attack the problem not the person
When our spouses do something to hurt us, it’s a natural instinct to point the finger and say, “you, you, you…” It feels good too, I know. I’ve been there. While it may feel good to “check” him/her or “spazz out,” it can easily become an addictive behavior that cripples the marriage. Effective communication has become scarce and abuse is now the “go-to.” Instead of attacking the problem, we find ourselves attacking each other and eventually we become silent enemies. The ‘tit-for-tat’ war is just getting started and both parties are about to lose.
All marriages have different problems or triggers, which is why it’s unhealthy to compare. For example, a wife believes her husband is selfish and his selfishness often leads to her getting the “short-end” of the stick. She’d like to handle it by being selfish in return, but how will that give her what she wants? The best way to handle a spouse who is selfish is to explore the root of your spouse’s self indulgence. Were they coddled growing up? Were they only children, the baby of the family or do you as the spouse make all things easy for them? Either way, the problem lies in the root and pointing the finger to tell them how selfish they are every day isn’t going to help. They will most likely ignore the problem because for them, selfishness is habit.
Create an atmosphere where selfishness is less attainable and be consistent. Show your spouse that you have needs too and they will modify their behaviors based on what’s required of them.
4. Seek Solutions
My husband tells me all of the time, “Nya, you focus too much on the problem. We need solutions.” He’s absolutely correct. We do need more solutions and less problems. My fear is that, if I give him a solution, he’s ‘off the hook’ with the problem. Irrationality at its finest and the same poor logic I tend to have with forgiveness.
Can you imagine completing a math problem that never gets solved? I don’t know about you, but I’d probably die from annoyance, so you can just about imagine what it will do to a marriage. This is what couples go through when they re-live the same problems over and over again. It’s like completing a math problem with about 53 steps.
The idea of finding a solution is not only healthy for your spirit and liberating, but it gives the marriage something to look forward to. For example, if the problem is, “your spouse spends too much time with friends and family,” the solution would be to prioritize time for the marriage and have allotted times for friends and family. The two of you can also work out a way to have couple’s night or family night. It incorporates both and satisfies both. Problem solved…
5. Let your spouse make it right
There is no better feeling than seeing the one you love be vulnerable. After we’ve been wronged, we want our spouse to hold our hand, look into our eyes, and say, “Please forgive me, what can I do to make this right? Let me make this right?” Sounds amazing doesn’t it? However, if your anger is anything like mine, you just might get that question and respond with, “Nothing, get out of my face!” Don’t be like me. I ruin everything 😫.
Because I am aware that I can be like this, I have to use my support systems and gain better insight. I talk to my “less traumatized friends” or friends who I believe are more submissive as wives to help me ‘think’ better. I realize that sometimes my “boss chick persona” gets in the way of my happiness and I need a balance. So, I call on them.
A good friend of mine, just yesterday said to me, “Nya, you have to let your husband make it right.” That stuck with me because she was absolutely correct. My husband and I have made it thus far because I’ve always allowed him to make it right and he’s always allowed me to make it right. So, why stop now? Oh, I know why…because my anger says, “stop now!” My fear says “stop now,” but God says, “keep going…”
When your spouse apologizes, allow him or her to show you with their actions that they want to do better. If you see progress, reward them in their love language, whether it’s words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch, gift giving or quality time. (The 5 Love Languages, awesome book by Gary Chapman btw, get it!)
Positive reinforcement always works. It’s the gift that keeps giving and it’s the positivity that both parties need to heal when the hurt is present.
This post was written to help improve the quality of marriage and give insight to the process of forgiveness.
Nya B is an author, mental health clinician, speaker and professor in the school of Behavioral Arts and Sciences. Learn more about her at nya-b.com or follow her on IG and Twitter @author_nya_b