Another couple just arrived and participated in their Marriage Intensive at The Marriage Recovery Center. Like many others before them, they were broken and disconnected, wounded and worn.
Sitting about as far from each other as they could on the sofa, each shared a list of wounds they had experienced, offering justification for their feelings of betrayal and detachment.
We allow each person to speak freely at first — we want to know their heart and how they come to this treatment process. Like others, they had “collected” wounds and then stored them away. It’s not that they hadn’t tried to resolve them and move on — there were just so many and they didn’t have the tools to effective mend the wounds.
“I’m just so hurt,” Katie kept saying, clutching her face to hold back her tears, as she introduced herself and her reasons for coming to our counseling center. “I can’t seem to get beyond my pain.”
Her husband of 10 years, Joe, watched sympathetically. He seemed to care and certainly understood, as he shared how he was carrying his own suitcase full of dirty, stained wounds.
“Can you relate?” I asked Joe.
“Oh yea,” he said firmly, his broad shoulders stooping from his discouragement. “I know what it is like to live with distance and disconnection. I know she has got to be hurting as much as I am, and that’s a lot.”
Joe and Katie had stopped talking about serious matters. Their relationship was like a tinderbox, ready to explode with the slightest spark. He sparked her wounds while she sparked his. They were a classic case of “Hurting people hurting people.”
And so they talked about the weather, the kids and their day to day activities. But, they didn’t talk about their hearts or their hurts. They didn’t know how to approach these issues anymore. The longer they avoided issues, the harder it became to approach them.
Fortunately, we never have to wonder about how to heal from wounds inflicted by our mate. If you’ve taken the time to reach 1 Corinthians 13, the Apostle Paul’s famous consideration on love, you’ll know how to love your mate effectively. You’ll read in this famous passage the building blocks to learn how to not wound your mate, and if you do, how to move past them and through them.
I draw your attention specifically to verse five of this famous passage: “It (love) does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:5)
There is much packed into this short verse. Let’s tease apart this verse to see what there is for Joe and Katie and perhaps for you as well.
First, love does not dishonor others. What does it mean to show honor to a mate? It means many things, but at the least it means valuing them, speaking kindly and respectfully. It means caring about what they care about and celebrating their individuality.
Second, love is not self-seeking. Perhaps more than any others, this aspect of love is the most challenging. Love extends itself for the well-being of another. We go out of our way to meet our mate’s needs, presuming that we know them and care to meet them. We live outside of our own limited view of the world, bringing our mate into our arena of life and extending into theirs.
Third, love is not easily angered. Scripture repeatedly tells us to get rid of all bitterness and anger, as this is often destructive and hurtful (Ephesians 4:31). Anger is usually self-centered, narrow-minded, creating distortions in how we think and subsequently how we feel. When we get rid of our anger we allow God to move into our hearts and souls and see our mate with compassion. We see things from a larger perspective. Our mate rarely intends to hurt us, and when they do most often do so from their own place of hurt.
Finally, love keeps no record of wrongs. Another tall order, but one we must strive to keep. Instead of rehearsing how we’ve been wronged, which is our natural tendency, we ask God to fill our hearts with love and compassion. We recognize that the poison we maintain in our hearts disrupts our well-being, stops us from loving others and even interrupts our sweet relationship with God.
Joe and Katie emptied their suitcase of hurts and wounds, each listening compassionately to the other, bringing profound healing to their relationship. You too can have this kind of healing. 1 Corinthians 13 is a great place to begin that journey.
We want to hear from you. Please go to our website, www.marriagerecoverycenter.com and discover the free downloadable eBook, A Love Life of Your Dreams as well as free videos and articles. Please send responses to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and also read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on our website. You’ll find videos and podcasts on sexual addiction, emotionally destructive marriages, codependency and affair-proofing your marriage.