About fifteen years ago, our marriage began to sink to a new level of disconnection. Although several factors contributed to my disconnecting from my husband, the one that stands out the most is that my attempts to express my feelings to my husband were rejected.
When I needed to talk with my husband about things that were unrelated to him, it was okay for me to share my feelings. He would listen to me.
However, when it came to feelings about anything that involved him, things didn’t go so well. I needed him to hear me and to recognize my hurt. I needed him to hold me and tell me he loved me. Instead, he told me he didn’t want to hear about it. He told me why I shouldn’t feel the way I did. He told me the conversation was over. He told me to get over it.
Words sting . . .
Every rebuff had the result of exacerbating my feelings. Not only did I still have the feelings I needed to deal with, I also had to deal with the hurt from having my vulnerability rejected.
As I brought things up later in hopes of finally being able to talk through them, my husband’s response was, “Just get over it.”
I remember the feeling that flooded through me each time. Those words were a complete dismissal–not just of my feelings, but of my right to have my feelings. They told me that my feelings didn’t matter—and that I didn’t matter. They told me that I couldn’t count on my husband.
The words trampled on my heart.
I now understand the role that my husband’s own hurt played in his saying those words. That story isn’t mine to tell, but I do know that the words were less about me and my feelings than they were about him and his feelings.
Still, the words stung. They still do.
A friend recently said those word while relating something to me about an incident in another marriage. It had nothing to do with me—yet the words got to me. My husband hasn’t said them to me in years, but my heart hurt for the person who had been the recipient of them.
. . . no matter who says them.
As I thought about the conversation with my friend, I realized that even when my husband didn’t speak the words, he communicated a “just get over it” attitude during our difficult years. The attitude hurt me as much as the words did.
“Just get over it” is such a dismissing and diminishing thing to communicate to someone, especially someone you love and who should be able to count on you for more. I found myself starting to wallow in the memory of a past hurt.
God has a way of using my memories to hold up a mirror that shows me a far bigger picture than I originally could see.
As I was starting to ponder the memory of my hurt, God showed me that I, too, had I expressed a “just get over it” attitude to my husband. For years it was what I communicated to Big Guy about his desire for sex.
I remembered a time my husband told me he wanted for us to have sex. The memory of my response made me cringe: “It isn’t going to happen, so just get over it.”
Over and over, my husband communicated his feelings about needing to connect with me. Over and over, I gave him a dismissal. I not only dismissed his desire, I dismissed his right to even experience that desire.
God’s mirror showed me what I had communicated to my husband: Your feelings don’t matter. You don’t matter. You can’t count on me.
My words trampled his heart.
Take a chance on change.
Being rejected when we are vulnerable hurts, yet healing our marriage has required us to risk that vulnerability with each other.
A month or two ago, I was telling my husband how I felt about something that he was trying to accomplish. His response to me wasn’t “just get over it,” but it was another phrase he used to say to communicate that attitude to me. I felt just as dismissed, diminished, and rejected as I did years ago.
I felt the crumbled broken-down remnants of my old emotional walls reassembling themselves. I wanted to hide behind those walls.
Instead, I did the brave thing.
I told my husband how his words had hurt me.
The old feelings made me not want to trust him; I reached out in trust and vulnerability anyway, knowing that my husband is a different man than he once was. He is now a man who carries less of the hurt he once did. He is a husband who knows he is loved and valued.
The man he once was would’ve responded with a dismissal. The man my husband is now responded by hearing me, recognizing my hurt, holding me, and telling me that he loves me.
My husband has been brave, too. Although I don’t reject him sexually, I still do some things that communicate a “just get over it” attitude toward him. Just this past week, he took the risk of sharing his feelings with me about a bad habit I have. He could do so because he knows that I am not the same woman I once was. He made the choice to trust me. It warmed my heart, even as I cringed to realized what I’d been doing.
Do the brave thing.
When you’ve been the recipient of “just get over it” from your husband, it is scary to lower those emotional walls. Years later, the protective walls may be partly intact. You may find yourself reacting from within walls you didn’t even remember were there.
If you find yourself facing a “just get over it message” from your husband, consider doing the brave thing and sharing your hurt with him. If either one of you has made an effort to make change in your marriage, you may find that the whole dynamic between you is changed, too.
Healing from years of “just get over it” takes prayer, effort, and courage. Doing the brave thing requires vulnerability. It requires a decision to trust.
I still struggle with those things sometimes. But every time Big Guy responds with love, understanding, and connection, the intimacy between us grows its roots deeper and deeper.
The risk that once led to disconnection now strengthens our connection.
I’m glad I’ve learned to do the brave thing.