Make a wound or heal a wound.
At nearly every intersection in a relationship, especially the tense touch points, you have that choice: you can make a wound or you can help to heal a wound.
This may seem incredible to you. How is it possible to either make a wound or heal a wound? Is life really that simple? Yes and no.
Yes, there are those moments in a relationship when you will either make a situation worse or you will advance not only the relationship, but the healing of your mate.
Jamie and Colin, a couple who had been dating for over a year, were in that situation recently. Here is the story they shared with me in their counseling session.
“He showed up late again for a date and keeps me waiting,” Jamie said, her irritation showing.
“I was only ten minutes late,” he said hotly. “I really don’t get the big deal.”
“Is it possible that it really is a big deal, Colin?” I asked. “Have you explored with her what it means to her when you are late? It may seem like just 10 minutes to you, but if it happens again and again, it may mean something different.”
“It can’t mean anything different,” he said argumentatively. “Ten minutes is 10 minutes.”
“Not so fast,” I said. “Ten minutes is, of course, 10 minutes. But, what it means to Jamie is what we need to explore. What does that 10 minutes mean to her, and is it stacked on top of other issues?”
“That’s not my problem,” he said, his attitude showing.
“Ah, but it is your problem,” I asserted. “If it’s a problem for her, it’s a problem for you. Would you be willing to ask her what it means to her? Do you care enough to ask and then respond effectively to her concern?”
“I suppose,” he said slowly, looking over to Jamie.
“Why don’t you tell him?” I said, looking at Jamie.
“Well,” she began. “It does mean more than 10 minutes. You’ve been late a number of times, and I’ve been feeling neglected. You’ve cancelled a couple of dates and have seemed less interested in me lately. It all adds up.”
Colin looked at her slowly, starting to react and then stopping himself. He looked over at her before responding. I could sense that he was essentially asking himself whether he would make a wound or heal a wound.
“I didn’t know this was bothering you,” he said compassionately. “I can see how being late again and again would create bad feelings. I hear that you are probably feeling neglected and I’m adding to those bad feelings.”
“Thank you,” Jamie said, leaning closer to him.
“You’re welcome,” he said.
Suddenly the air felt softer in my office. Jamie and Colin smiled at each other.
They had taken a troubling situation and grown from it. Colin had taken a sensitive topic, moved through his defensiveness and chosen to meet Jamie where she hurt. He chose to listen to her and inquire about the deeper issue—her feelings of neglect and hurt—and move toward healing her wound.
You have the opportunity to do what Colin and Jamie did. Let’s consider the steps of action you can take:
You Have the Power to Make a Wound or Heal a Wound
Every interaction, especially those surrounding sensitive issues, is an opportunity to bring healing. Every situation, especially those with ‘voltage,’ are opportunities for healing to occur. Look for the opportunity hidden in the transaction.
Look Beyond the Immediate Situation to the Deeper Problem
Most reactions are over-reactions, and this suggests deeper issues. Most of us bring wounds into our relationships, and these wounds come to the surface as raw spots. Be on the lookout for these raw spots.
Ask for More Information by Being Gently Inquisitive
When you see a wound in your mate, ask for more information. Encourage them to share more about how they have been hurt, why they have been hurt and what you can do differently. Be open to suggestions for how you can bring healing to a situation.
See Yourself as a Minister of Healing
Your relationship can be a powerful means to bring healing to your mate. Don’t limit yourself to the present situation. Seek healing on a deeper level. Listening and understanding are powerful healing experiences for the wounded heart.
Allow for God to Work Through You
Be prayerful as you humbly listen to your mate. Ask God how you can be more sensitive to your mate’s wounds. Be open to what God wants you to do in this particular situation, with this particular person. Notice the transformation that occurs in the person and the relationship.
We’re excited to continue offering my special eBook, A Love Life of Your Dreams free for you to download. Additionally, we’re offering a free downloadable video titled The Challenge of Change. We’re also excited to announce our newest resource, our treatment facility for women—The Center for Healing, and you can read more about that at TheCenterforHealing.org. You can send a confidential note to me, as well as receive your free eBook at firstname.lastname@example.org and read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on my website, MarriageRecoveryCenter.com and YourRelationshipDoctor.com. You’ll find videos and podcasts on saving a sexual addiction, emotionally destructive marriages, codependency and affair-proofing your marriage.