Love Hurts, Love Scars, Love Wounds and Marks
Written By: Mark Smith
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We're going old time rock in roll this week. "Love hurts, love scars, love wounds and marks". Make sure to click the music video link so that you can hear Nazareth's classic song. Love Hurts - Nazareth It would make great background music while you read this blog. There is a lot of truth in those lyrics! Actually the purpose of love absolutely IS to hurt, scar, wound and mark. It is nature's way of making us face off with the unresolved wounds from our childhood. We only fall in love with people who are cleverly disguised versions of the most hurtful parts of our parents. That isn't psycho babble people - that is the stone cold truth about what love is. I had the privilege of spending some time this weekend training with Harville Hendricks, perhaps the most famous marital therapist on the planet. He has been on Oprah 17 times. He wrote 'Getting the Love You Want', the best seller that describes the whole 'you marry your issues' process best.
In his presentation on Thursday night he said something really cute that I liked a lot "Incompatibility is grounds for marriage, and compatibility is grounds for boredom." We have it all backwards in our culture. You don't need "a lover who don't drive me crazy" to go Mellencamp on you. I Need a Lover Who Won\'t Drive Me Crazy - John Mellencamp To have long term passion and juice in your relationship you actually need someone who DOES drive you crazy. Incompatibility is not grounds for divorce, it is an opportunity to do some very deep healing work on yourself. Don't feel shocked, betrayed or ill-used by the massive amount of pain that your relationship dishes out to you. It comes with the contract. I had a woman say to her husband this week during a session "I didn't sign on for that", referring to behaviors that were reenactments of her father's behaviors. I kindly suggested to her that she had, in fact, signed on for every intrusive, hurtful, reactive, undifferentiated trait her husband frequently hurts her with. That is why she married him.
Harville Hendrix is a humble, happy, delightful man. I felt like a giant physically standing next to him but I felt dwarfed by wisdom and his massive impact on the world compared to my meager efforts. Let me take the liberty to change the words to Nazareth's anthem on the pain of love. How about "Love heals, love reenacts, love is therapy and Groundhog Day". Not quite as snappy or poetic as the original lyrics but closer to the truth. Ironically, your best opportunity for happiness, true love, emotional health and stability is to hammer things out with your difficult and hurtful spouse. You are not now, nor have you ever been, a victim of your spouse's dysfunctional love. About every third couple that I see involves someone bringing their 'crazy, abusive, narcissistic, sexually addicted, borderline, depressed, PTSD' spouse in so that I can fix them. On Thursday night Harville Hendrix said that people bring their identified patient spouse in so that we can "execute them".
I love the surprised, unhappy, resistive look on the faces of the 'sane' spouse when I tell them that it is actually an immutable law of nature that they and their families are every bit as crazy as their spouse and their bunch. And that they picked their crazy spouse exactly for the particular hurtful traits that also hurt them when they were little kids. We try to get our clients to get their focus off their spouse and onto the "Man in the Mirror" (sorry, sticking with theme of the lyrics and titles of songs). Man in the Mirror - Michael Jackson We don't believe in marital therapy here. The marriage IS the therapy. Your marital problems are YOUR issues, not your spouse's. They no doubt have their fair share of issues. They just aren't your main problem - you are the inventor and the architect of your life and your marriage. We all have an un-erring radar system that allows us to identify and marry exactly the right person to help us to heal our deepest wounds from childhood. However, before you have an opportunity to heal, you first have an opportunity to have your psychological defenses broken down and destroyed by the heat seeking missiles of your lovely marital adversary's tailor-made weapons of mass destruction. That hurts, it scars, it wounds and it marks.
We should be taught going into a relationship that it will hurt worse than anything we have ever felt before, that getting long-term, safe, blissful love from the people you pick will be virtually impossible. They are so wrong for you that they are right for you. Young people in their wedding ceremonies are promised the world - everlasting faithfulness, intimacy, connection, great sex, happiness and stability. Those delicious things last but for a few years and then the real work of marriage begins.
Your relationship pain is your teacher. It is actually your salvation. It came to you to wake you up, deepen you and heal you. It is a gift. I'm serious. It really is a gift. There are no bad guys and no victims in even the worst marriages. No one should be given a license to judge their spouse. It is all fair and it is all good. You married that person for a reason. They are being who they are and who you recruited specially for the mission of leveling your defenses and making you feel and work on the deep wounds that you didn't even know you had. A hidden ticking time bomb going off in your marriage resulting in the bloody and brutal emotional loss of limbs is NORMAL.
It happens in almost every marriage at some point. Needing to go in to see a marital therapist should be a badge of honor and total normalcy, not a badge of shame. Every person and every marriage have a good bit of dysfunction in them. Good people sometimes do bad things, but they do those bad things for a reason. Every hurtful action or inaction on the part of both partners is viewed through the prism of non-judgment, non-victimhood and mutual positive personal growth.
On Thursday night Harville said "The trauma of childhood becomes the drama in the marriage." He said that the goal of therapy and healing is to "replace negativity with curiosity and empathy". I love that! It is such a beautiful thing when couples show each other empathy and nurture at the emergence of the wounded little boy or little girl rather than harsh judgment or cold distancing. A great marriage is when a man and a woman take turns leaning deeply into each other from their most wounded places with tender empathy and kindness. I wish such a wonderful thing for us all.
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