For the last three weeks, we’ve looked at people who have deep-down pain in their hearts. They don’t forgive. They can’t trust. They can’t reveal their inner struggles—even to their spouse. Despite the tell-tale signs of persistent problem areas and out-of-proportion reactions to disagreements, they convince themselves they are over the pain, or that it’s not worth the discomfort of dealing with it. Some people genuinely don’t know what to do to resolve the pain. You can read about these in more detail in Parts 1-3 of this series here: part 1, part 2, part 3. Not dealing with past pain puts a real strain on a marriage.
In this post we’ll look at the last reason people don’t work at resolving past pain: I tried it before, and it didn’t work. Here are three reasons it “didn’t work.”
Our impatience gets in the way.
God answers, but He doesn’t always answer immediately. I remember asking God about one hurt I’d carried for years. Immediately, He replayed the events in my mind from His perspective. Seeing them through God’s eyes brought instant healing. Another time, I prayed for weeks before God answered in a way that brought healing. In the end, God wants our trust. He wants union with us. I need to be more patient. Perhaps you do too. Also, consider that God may need to bring about change in your spouse’s life before He can bring mutual healing. That may take a little longer.
You haven’t gone deep enough.
Healing comes in stages. God may have opened your eyes and healed your heart at one level—but wait! There’s more! It’s worth doing the work of exploring your emotions further. Especially if God has a ministry planned for you in this area, He may have more for you to learn so you will be better able to help others.
Some people don’t even want to try.
They feel they have tried before (or someone close to them tried) to rectify the situation and it didn’t work. They are hopeless about life ever getting better in a certain area because that’s what they saw modeled while they grew up. “Women are bossy and controlling and, while it makes me feel terrible when my wife is bossy and controlling, that’s just the way life is.” Or, “My husband is looking at stuff on the internet that makes me feel cheated and degraded, but that’s just the way men are, isn’t it?” Then they give up. If you don’t believe God can bring healing, why keep trying? Why keep praying? It feels easier to stop hoping for the impossible and just live with a painful situation.
To all of these people we would say, “There is hope, but you have to bring it to Jesus and keep searching and praying until He answers.” Jesus is good. He wants you to be whole. He wants you to have an extraordinary marriage. He can bring understanding and healing.
Finally, here’s the bonus half point: I see my spouse as the cause of disharmony. Bob thinks I get frustrated easily. He thinks the cycle is repetitive and my response is out of proportion to the situation. I don’t think I get frustrated easily. When he makes a snack of the meat I’m saving for dinner or overwhelms me by asking me to do two things at once, I think my response is normal and good. Why does he keep suggesting, “Why don’t you work on your frustration?” (which is frustrating!) I think the things he does would exasperate anyone. I see it solely as his fault. Yet I’ve got to admit: The same things keep setting me off. And I just may get more bent out of shape than I should. Hmmm. Whether he adjusts his words and actions or not, maybe I need to persistently seek God, ask God to take me deeper, and not give up hope.
Our book, The Marriage Dance: Moving Together as One, covers this topic in more detail and is available on Amazon.