When a marriage is hurting

| Kate Soucheray | February 7, 2019 | 0 Comments
Large raindrops fall to the ground in front of a withered red rose

iStock/Astrid860

With the celebration of Valentine’s Day this month, most people do not think about marriages that are struggling or hurting, due to infidelity, miscommunication or past hurts.

When a partner of such a couple attempts to purchase a card for their spouse to express their feelings, it can be a difficult experience. In such instances, honesty about the state of the marriage is far more valuable than an expression of words the spouse does not sincerely mean. A simple card to extend well-wishes to the partner, rather than an emotional, overly-expressive message would be more appropriate. However, finding such a card may be challenging.

When a marriage is hurting, no matter the season, both partners are hurting. Additionally, family members, children, grandchildren and in-laws are affected by the pain of the aching relationship and are often at a loss of finding ways to help. Again, honesty is the first step toward healing. If the couple has the desire to reinvigorate and restore the marriage, they must be candid about what they believe is wrong and work together to make every effort to repair the hurt and harm that has been caused by the rupture in their relationship.

ACTION CHALLENGEFollow the steps outlined by Chris Witte and engage in a discussion with your spouse or work associates this month. Do not judge yourself on the outcome. Instead, focus on using the strategies outlined here.

Chris Witte, a professional speaker and corporate trainer, explains that resolving conflict in our relationships begins with the decision to communicate with each other by finding an agreed upon place and time to hold a discussion, not an argument. If the communication devolves into a disagreement, the couple must stop immediately, in order that neither partner experiences further harm. If the partners are able to remain civil and polite, one partner begins by sharing one grievance, while the other listens carefully and calmly, preparing to ask questions for clarification, not to defend themselves against what they perceive as criticism. When the listening partner asks questions for clarification, the speaking partner has the opportunity to correct or affirm the questions posed by the listening partner. Both partners must choose to be calm and mature if this discussion is to remain at the discussion level.

Next, the partners agree to work together toward the most logical, practical solution that both find amenable. They will agree on who will do what by when, a timetable, and the expected outcome of their efforts to resolve the conflict they face. If the discussion becomes accusatory or angry, the couple is encouraged to step back and take a time out, but must agree to return when tempers have subsided and they can safely resume their conversation.

When we think about how Jesus handled disagreements he faced on his journeys throughout Palestine, he nearly always remained loving, patient and present. He rarely became angry toward those who challenged his thinking or questioned his motives. Rather, he often posed a question in return, gave a simple teaching, or offered a quotation from what we know as the Old Testament. For Jesus, this was the Torah, the Writings, or the Prophets and was his written source of wisdom from God. The New Testament was not available to him because it was written after his death and resurrection and taught about his life and teachings.

We have so many options and choices for handling disagreements with those whom we love or with whom we work. Allowing disagreements to become stumbling blocks to a richer life is unnecessary and unwise. Not only does entering into an argument harm our relationships, it also harms our health. Finding simple and straightforward ways to manage difficulties in our relationships is an opportunity for personal and relational growth. Take time during this month of love to improve your relationships. Rather than offer a sentiment on a card you don’t really mean, be sincere and truthful and use this month as an opportunity for growth and honesty in your marriage.

Soucheray is a licensed marriage and family therapist and a member of Guardian Angels in Oakdale. She holds a master’s degree in theology from the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity in St. Paul.

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Category: Simple Holiness