We all experience hurt in our marriages from time to time.
Our husbands are imperfect humans. They are not mind readers. They have their own issues. Sometimes they are going to say and do things that wound us emotionally. (I am not talking about marriages with physical or emotional abuse here. Abuse goes beyond the scope of what I address on this blog.)
The vulnerability that is a by-product of marriage can make us more susceptible to emotional injury. All sorts of things can lead to our hurt feelings:
- He forgets to take out the garbage.
- He jokes with friends about one of your mistakes.
- He doesn’t talk about his feelings except when he wants to have sex.
- You’ve caught him watching porn before
- He pauses when you ask him if he thinks you’re getting fat.
- He responds too quickly when you ask him if he thinks you’re getting fat.
- He doesn’t make romantic plans for Valentine’s Day or your anniversary.
- He forgives a relative more quickly than you do.
- He often initiates sex after you’ve fallen into bed exhausted from dealing with kids and household chores.
- He rarely puts his dirty clothes in the hamper.
- He had an inappropriate texting relationship with a woman from work several years ago, although he has apologized, changed jobs, and has repented.
- He doesn’t make enough money at his job to provide for your family.
- He forgot to tell you his parents were coming to visit and you hadn’t cleaned your house.
- He spends so much time at work that you rarely see him.
- He rarely initiates conversations unless he wants specific information.
While some of these things may seem more serious than others, the fact is that all of them can lead to hurt feelings that last for years if we let them.
Fifteen years ago, I had an argument with my husband. I’d been alone with the kids for the whole summer while Big Guy was living close to his new job six hours away. I was wiped out from never having a break from the kids or the need to keep the house spotless because it was on the market. My husband came home for the weekend. The lawn needed to be mowed, but he wanted to watch TV instead.
While I now understand that he’d been lonely and just wanted to feel cozy and hang out with his family, at the time, I hurt. I was exhausted and in desperate need of someone else taking over something for even one hour. I wanted him to recognize the difficulties I’d faced.
I saw his preference to watch TV as a sign that he didn’t care about how much responsibility I’d had on my shoulders or how much I needed a break. In other words, he didn’t care about me.
I went out to mow the yard. Some grass got caught in the wheel, so I stooped down to remove it. My husband came outside then and asked me if I was mad.
You really have to ask if I’m mad? Seriously?
I was so busy fuming and trying to think of a clever response that I didn’t pay attention to what I was doing. The inside of my wrist touched the hot engine of the mower. I watched in horror as my skin burned, split, and curled up.
“Look what you made me do! Just get away from me. I have to finish this up because I have to do everything myself.” (I know. Not my finest moment by far.)
The following week was filled with finishing the preparations for our move. I neglected my burn. Bandages got knocked loose and the wound got dirty.
The day came when we loaded up in the minivan to move to our new home. As I was driving, I realized that my arm hurt. I looked down. Not only was the burn much worse than it had been, I saw a red streak leading from the infection up to the bend of my arm and toward my heart. I knew I had an infection.
I hadn’t tended to my injury and my wounded had festered.
I started to panic. I knew that I needed to deal with it as soon as possible or I might get very ill.
At our next rest stop, all I could find in our luggage was hydrogen peroxide, so I poured it on the wound. It stung even more than I’d thought it would, but I gritted my teeth, put a new bandage on it, and hoped for the best.
We arrived at our new home, greeted by my husband who was very happy to see us all. He noticed the bandage on my arm and asked me what had happened.
What? How could you not remember? You were right there when it happened! You should be feeling bad about it, but you don’t even care. Out loud, I said, “I burned my arm on the mower last week. You were there when it happened.”
I’m pretty sure I stormed off.
I clearly had let my emotional hurt fester right along with my physical one.
How often do you let your emotional wounds fester?
Something happens. We hurt—yet somehow we don’t get around to taking care of the wound. We get too busy. We think about how it might sting to take care of it so we avoid it and hope it will get better on its own.
We think it is too small a matter to warrant attention. Or it’s a major hurt but we do only half the work needed to heal it.
These emotional wounds fester. We let the hurt sit, untended. It worsens without our even realizing it.
Eventually, the wound sends an infection that reaches toward our hearts. Even a small wound, if left untended, can invade our whole system.
Only then do we recognize that we are still carrying this hurt around. By then, it may require very painful tending.
Check yourself for signs of emotional infection.
Do you do any of the following?
- Feel bitter about something that happened long ago?
- Resent your husband for something that led to difficulty for you?
- Look at his words or actions as validation of your view of him or your marriage?
- Resist sexual intimacy because you think he doesn’t deserve it?
- Assume that his actions or words are a sign that he doesn’t love you or find you attractive?
Is it possible that you are holding onto some emotional hurt that has festered and reached for your heart?
The house we moved into had a lovely swimming pool. After my long drive with three kids, a dog, and a tranquilized cat, I decided that I really wanted to swim.
I jumped into the pool, forgetting about my burn. Ow ow ow ow ow. It stung from the chlorine—but then the stinging lessened and I enjoyed my swim.
The next morning I realized that the red streaks had subsided a bit. After another swim, I realized that they were gone. The chlorine that had stung so horribly had killed the infection.
The physical injury healed, although it left a scar. The burn was bad enough that there was probably no way to avoid a scar, but it would’ve been a lighter scar if I’d tended the wound earlier.
I let the emotional wounds continue to fester for ten more years.
I’ve dealt with the hurt now, although it has left scars on my marriage. If I had tended the hurt earlier, the scarring would be lighter.
Are you carrying old wounds from earlier in your marriage? Have they infected your heart?
Perhaps it is time to tend those hurts and begin to heal.
O Lord my God, I cried to You for help, and You healed me.
Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net