Learn From The Pain In Your Marriage
Written By: Mark Smith
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Your coffee better be really strong today because
we are going to get deep in your free 5-minute therapy session. This article could really change your life and your marriage. Marriages can be brutal places to be. They have the ability to unearth our deepest pain - rage, abandonment, betrayal, depression, tears that won't stop, hatred, defensiveness, feeling unheard, and that awful crackling tension in the air. If you are currently in such a marriage I want to help you to make some sense of it all.
Somewhere along the line we got it in our heads that the purpose of marriage was to provide unconditional love, happiness, nurturing, safety and a little heaven on earth. That is absolutely, positively not even remotely close to the real purpose of marriage. I can just hear those of you who are still in the honeymoon stage - "Hey, Mr. Smarty-pants therapist, we actually do have heaven on earth in our marriage". I believe you, but give it some time. In seven to ten years (sooner for most) you'll be whistling a different tune my friend. The purpose of marriage, get this, is in fact to hurt us! You read that right. Let me explain - as children we all sustained some emotional wounds along the way, some more than others. It might be the premature death of a parent, a distant father, a divorce, addictions, an overly critical parent, or even a tragic event that happened outside the family. Fortunately we came equipped with the ability to protect, defend and bury those wounds so that we could cope and then get the heck out of Dodge. When we hit our early twenties we are idealistic enough to believe that by physically leaving the premises we have raised ourselves above whatever dysfunction our families tried to foist upon us. I wish that were true.
This is where my "Trojan Horse" theory comes in regarding the nature of love. Here is my unromantic but quite accurate definition of love - we become attracted to wonderfully appealing, attractive and as far as we can tell nearly perfect love objects, we open up the walls of our emotional forts and once safely inside, enemies of our worst nightmares emerge and start wreaking havoc in our lives. There you have it, right from the pen of a leading professional - the meaning of love. That is why marriage is so painful - it is a can opener that cuts through our protective shells only to reveal ancient weaknesses, vulnerability and pain.
Your irritating, pain-causing spouse is actually your teacher, your healer and your best friend. In spite of evidence to the contrary, your spouse isn't the devil him or her self. They are exactly what you needed to help you grow and heal. They aren't doing you wrong - they're being the person that they always been. Your problem is not your spouse. Your problem is your unresolved childhood stuff. The marital problems are just symptoms. When that light goes on for a couple it changes everything. They are no longer enemies lashing at each other - they become buddies who support and encourage growth in each other. Our marital misery is not about our spouse - it is all about our unresolved childhood issues. That is good news, because we are the only ones that we have both the power and the responsibility to heal.
Learn from your marital wounds. They are there to teach, instruct and heal you. Stay in the box. Don't run away from your pain. If you do, know this, there are more Trojan Horses out there to get you. The next guy won't be a prince, trust me - he'll ultimately have the worst traits of your dad and mom just like husband #1 does. Stick with your spouse, roll up your sleeves and get to work proactively learning what you can learn from your marital wounds.
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