Complacency keeps you mired in the pain of the past. Choose to move forward and seek healing.

Note: See Lessons from a Wife’s Heart for an introduction to this post.

For many years in my marriage, I had a hurting heart—some because of my own baggage and some because of my husband’s words and actions.

Feeling hurt was no fun—but it was familiar. I avoided any work on my own healing, afraid of what I would find—evidence that my husband and I were completely incompatible, proof that I was screwed up more than I thought, or a clear sense that I was the reason for our marriage problems.

I didn’t want to identify the true source of the hurt, and I suspected that the process of healing whatever it was would require more than I had to give.

So, instead of working on healing my heart, I did . . . nothing. Time heals all wounds, right? I thought I could just wait until God decided to heal me instantaneously. Then everything would be better.

If God didn’t fix me, I figured my husband should undo the damage he’d caused. I thought it was the least he could do. Even more, because I resented my husband for the hurt he’d caused, there was a part of me that thought he didn’t deserve to have a happy and emotionally healthy wife. Yup, that’s right. I kept myself in pain for years while waiting for God or my husband to do all the work of my healing.

I was complacent in that I was self-satisfied that I had done all I should (in other words, nothing) toward my healing and was unaware that doing nothing could make things worse.

Complacency did more damage to my marriage than my years of resisting sex in some respects because of how it allowed bitterness to grow unchecked in my heart.

For two years after I began to work on the sexual intimacy in our marriage, the emotional pain and bitterness were still part of my heart. It was only when I took charge of my healing instead of waiting for my husband to make it all up to me that I began to heal.

The Fear of “What if…?”

I was afraid of what I would learn if I really worked to deal with my hurt feelings. What if I find out that we never should have gotten married? What if I discover that I’m even more unhappy than I realize? What if I remember things from the past that I’ve repressed? What am I supposed to do with all that? What if I figure out that we should get a divorce? What if I find it out it’s all gulp my fault?

Fear of “what if…” incapacitated me—until I decided to take control of that fear instead of letting it control me. By then, I had already done most of the hard work on changing my thoughts and actions about sex. I realized that a baby step approach had worked well for me. I could work on what was in front of me and not pay attention to what was beyond that. It worked for sex, so I decided to use the same approach to addressing my hurt.

Every time one of my “what if…” questions popped into my head, I pushed it out by reminding myself that I could deal with it when I got there and that for now I would deal with what was right in front of me. I told myself that while there was much that was unknown to me, it was not unknown to God.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

God already knew what I would learn, and he would guide me on my path to healing. I didn’t have to face any of it alone.

To the Other Side of the Pain

I was also afraid that facing my hurt would cause me even more pain. Why would I want to do that?

As I considered the possibility of facing more emotional pain, I found myself thinking about a conversation from years before. A woman in my prayer group was talking about watching her young adult daughter go through something very difficult. What she said seemed very profound to me:

“I wish I could take this pain away from her, but I can’t. Pain is like a huge swamp. You could walk around the edges, but that would take ten times longer and you’d probably get your feet wet anyway. The only way to the other side of the pain is to go right through it. It feels so amazing to be on the other side of the swamp and know that you survived the journey. I can’t take that experience away from her.”

As I replayed her words, I realized that if I stood on the hurting edge of the pain, I was either going to be stuck there indefinitely or have to work ten times harder and longer to plod around the edges of it. I’d been doing that already, and I was still hurting. The only way through my hurt was to go right through it—and when I did, I would be on the other side of the pain. Is it possible that I can heal? That this hurt doesn’t have to be part of how I feel every single day?

As I thought about the possibility of feeling healed, I ran across the Footprints poem, my eyes drawn to the line “it was then that I carried you.” I was again reminded that although facing the pain might hurt, I wouldn’t be alone. God would be with me, every step of the way. And I would arrive at the other side of all my hurt.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

I might experience pain in the healing, but God would provide comfort and I would be okay.

Resentment or Forgiveness?

The resentment in my heart was the hardest thing to overcome in ending my complacency in healing.

In my mind, my husband had created much of the problem, so it was his to un-do. It was unfair for me to have to do all the work of un-doing my hurt while he got to sit back and do nothing.

Because he’d done and said things that had hurt me, I’d clung to the idea that he didn’t deserve an emotionally healthy wife. At some point, I finally realized how ridiculous this was. In punishing my husband for having hurt me, I was choosing to keep myself in pain. Am I really that crazy? I thought. I’m paying him back for the hurt, but all that does is keep both of us in pain and dragged down by the past.

For years, I’d faced two choices: do the work myself and have us both benefit, or don’t do the work and keep both of us hurting. I’d chosen the option that kept both of us hurting. Maybe it was time to try the path that could heal.

It was helpful to remember that he, too, was hurt—and I was the creator of much of that pain. Although  my frequent refusal to sexually engage with him was often a response to his actions, that didn’t change the fact that my refusal had hurt him emotionally.

He was going to have to deal with the feelings that grew out of his memories of feeling rejected and unloved, just as I realized I would have to deal with the feelings that had grown out of my own memories of feeling hurt by him.

In thinking about the work that both of us had to do for ourselves, I realized this: no matter what my husband might ever try to do to help me heal, if I didn’t pursue that healing for myself, I was likely to stay stuck in pain. Even if he apologized and repented, if I continued to hold on to bitterness and let the hurt fester, my husband’s efforts would accomplish nothing.

I’d turned what was once genuine hurt into a grudge; it was time to let go. It was time to forgive my husband—not for his sake, but for my own. My resentment was a dark spot in my own heart, and until I forgave, my heart wouldn’t be whole and clean.

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13

God had forgiven me. It was past time for me to try to forgive as well.

Letting Go

Complacency can keep you mired in the pain of the past. Fear, avoidance, and resentment will continue to grow unless you choose to move forward and pursue healing from that pain.

If your heart has been hurt, your husband should support you in our healing. However, it is your responsibility to pursue that healing—whether or not your husband is supporting you, and even if he is responsible for that hurt.

It is up to you to deal with your pain.

Once you conquer your complacency, even though it may be hard, you are on the path to healing.

Let go of the power of the past to control your present. Facing the fear, walking the painful steps, and forgiving your husband can free the pain in your heart.

It may not be easy, but you are worth your own effort.

Seek healing so you can heal—and feel whole.

Image courtesy of smarnad at

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7 Thoughts on “Conquer Your Complacency

  1. Your post really touched me today. I’ve been following you for quite a while and often I feel that we are traveling the same path – you are just a few steps ahead of me. I have let my fear of change hold me down for so long and just today my husband told me I needed to take charge of my healing. It’s scary but I can’t walk around the bog forever.

    • Fear of change holding you down? Yup, sounds like my path. Healing has been hard work, but it is worth every bit of effort. You are worth every bit of effort. Healing isn’t for our marriages or our husbands, although they may benefit. Healing is for us. Sending prayers and ((hugs))) for you today.

  2. Daynene on November 2, 2015 at 4:16 pm said:

    This post has really hit home with me and made me tear up.. I’ve been married for almost 20 years. We run our own business and have had many trials but the last 5 years took a major toll on our marriage and on each other. We lost our friendship, and were slowly loosing the business. He turned a blind eye and just didn’t want to see and was easier to place blame on me than realize it was the lack of each of us putting what we needed to in it. We knew we loved each other but quickly we were sinking. I had become complacent in our marriage and business. I had resented him and forcing me to stay in the business that was sinking us and he just didn’t want to see it. Our conversations were constant fighting over everything. He resented me for the business failing blaming all on me. He still does this, for him it is easier to find blame then to see reality. Sex really was the only thing I believe that was keeping us together by a thread. In 2014 we decided to let the business go, file bankruptcy and start over. He started to talking to an old friend that was buying a vehicle from us. Quickly their friendship turned into sexting and talking for hours meeting for lunch/dinner and sneaking behind their spouses back to see each other, or sneak in the bathroom to text each other. I know at the time he needed someone that wasn’t me, he was frustrated with our situation and life and really needed a friend. But this friend helped him turn his back on me and our marriage. There little emotional affair/sexting went on for 5 months. I was able to finally figure out what was happening between fake phone number apps and fake instagram apps i gave him an ultimatum. Their friendship crossed a line though he tries to deny it, that it was never going to go any further. I really hate him for letting her come between us. I fear that if I let my guard down he will hurt me and us again. Our marriage is definitely better than ever. I made a vow to be open about our finances not hide what was happening (we started up our business again) and to be up front about everything. Our sex life was good before and know it is fantastic. WE are enjoying each other again and laughing. We rarely fight, unlike before which was every timed we opened our mouths. But because he has not admitted to the pain he caused us I am really struggling with moving past what they did. Even though intercourse was not involved it still hurts to think what they shared and talked about. I feel that if he apologized and said what he did was wrong I could heal but I don’t think that apology is ever going to happen. He hates to admit when he is wrong. I am trying to be ok with that, because his actions has definitely proved other wise. That I am important and we are important. But I struggle every day and is seriously a constant thought on my mind almost every minute of the day. I know it is holding me back from really giving everything to our marriage. I know we have lost something, I know we can get it back and takes baby steps. I just want instant gratification I guess. I want to move froward from all of this I have made some wonderful changes for our marriage, for myself, for our family. I just can’t seem to let go of the past. Afraid if I let my guard down he will talk to her again, he will sneak and find a way to talk to her. I wish I could find the peace to forgive them and move forward and help myself move past all of it. I pray everyday for us!

    • Oh, sweetie, you are talking to the queen of instant gratification here! I totally get it! One of the decisions I made as our marriage was healing was to work on letting go of any expectations of apology. (I wrote about some of that in this post.) That doesn’t mean that I was telling myself that it was okay that my husband had hurt me; it just means that I had decided not to let that hurt have power over me any more

      Look at some of the good things you have in your marriage now: more openness about finances, a good sex life, laughter, and no more fighting. Focus on those good things for a while. It may be that your husband needs to rebuild his trust in you before he is ready to admit anything. If you were withholding anything from him in the marriage (financial information, emotional intimacy, etc.), he may still be trying to recover from that. It sounds like your husband admitted what he did but hasn’t yet acknowledged that he caused you pain. The fact that he hasn’t done that yet doesn’t mean he never will. He might still be trying to understand for himself why he did what he did.

      And let’s say he did apologize. You think if he admits he was wrong, you will be able to heal. Do you really think you would be able to forgive him and trust him immediately? I’m not so sure I would have been able to for a few years. You’re still pretty fresh after the whole ordeal.

      You know, I think it would be okay for you to tell him that you fear letting your guard down with him for fear of being hurt. You don’t need to get into what happened or anything that will put him on the defensive. Just say, “Honey, I love how good our marriage is now, but I’ve realized I am struggling to be completely vulnerable with you. I’m afraid of being hurt. I just want you to be aware of that so you can pray for me about this and maybe look for some ways to encourage me in this area.”

      You are in my prayers.

      • Daynene on November 3, 2015 at 3:57 pm said:

        I can’t believe how much you hit this on the head. I do know that he has a hard time apologizing if he does he has to admit the pain he’s caused me and us. I know that is hard for him, it’s easier to blame me for all our problems. He says that if I would’ve been the wife I should’ve he wouldn’t have talked to her ( like that is a justification) we are responsible for our own actions. I know he struggles with the past financial decisions I made and didn’t consult him for him that is his trust issue with me, and one that I try very hard to show that he can trust me and we are doing better.

        The statement you made “He might still be trying to understand for himself why he did what he did” this is so true. I know initially his inventions were good and just started to talking to an old friend and catching up on the last 15 years. She took it to a whole other level and I think justified it by what we were going through at the time. He would be furious if the tables were turned if I talked sexual with another guy. He even told her he loved her but said just as friends. He isn’t very tech savvy and she helped him make fake phone numbers to be able to communicate when I said no more and blocked her number from our phones. Made a fake instagram to try and communicate that way with him. There was so much deceit going on it hurt so bad to think he talked to her that way told her things he should be telling me. She tried to make me think that he wanted to leave me, and that they were sneaking around going to dinner behind my back and horrible other things. He completely justified her actions saying she told me those things to hurt me cause I told her husband what was going on and how the two of them were communicating. Geez I could hash this out all night and all the things she did to hurt me and try to make me believe happened through her fake instagrams. I hate how he justified her actions yet couldn’t find one reason for my actions. Yes it is all still so fresh for me some times my anxiety over it all is so overwhelming. We both got rid of instagram, he gets bored and will surf Facebook, i’ve blocked her from both our accounts and he can’t see hers because of this. He definitely has a problem with finding a line between too much cell phone/social media. I try to set an example and will stay off for a week or so but he don’t care and will continue be on for hours and sometimes at the most inappropriate times, if I say anything he just barks at me. I say to myself he is doing in front of me and not behind my back like before so it just has to be ok for now.

        I try to tell myself, I gave him the chance to leave, heck I left a couple times cause I found out about the communication. He said that wasn’t what he wanted. I am trying to give him and our marriage 100% and be the best wife for him I can. I try not to let my anxiety get me and hold it in from him (he hates when it is brought up at all). But I feel he still holds back from me. It makes me feel like he did really want her but she wouldn’t leave her husband so he had no choice but to stay with me. He knows he couldn’t run the business without me so he stays. I hate feeling like I am second best that he wants her and he can’t.

        One day I hope I can say what you told me to say that is pretty good! Thanks for your advice. I love that you can see both points!

  3. getting there on November 3, 2015 at 7:33 pm said:

    As a husband, I found good wisdom in the section dealing with resentment. My wife is making changes, and I am having a hard time letting go of my resentment. Your article has helped me to re-frame my approach to letting go.

    • I’m glad you found it helpful. I wrote to wives about a husband’s healing in Rebuilding His Trust. It’s okay that it’s taking you a while to heal, but you may find that if you work on letting go of your resentment, it will help your wife feel encouraged to continue with the changes she is making.

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