By Dr. Joe Wasmond
Many spouses think the reason why I am in pain is because of what is happening to me right now, especially in a marriage counseling situation. You can ask either person what’s the problem? They will probably tell you by pointing to left or to the right. “If you can get him/her to stop doing this or that, I’ll be happy. That’s all I ask.”
What they’re really saying is, “My present situation is the cause of my pain.” The problem with that is if it is truly indeed that the reason why I am in pain is because of you (or someone/something else)…if that’s true, then what I have just said is “I can never be free until you are healed. I will be in bondage until you get right.” That’s a lie. I can be free from all my emotional pain whether my spouse is free or not. “I’m not limited to you.”
The present situation may be causing pain but it’s not the source of your pain, it’s triggering your pain. The present may be producing real pain, but…this also taps into everything else from your past and pulls it up into the present because I haven’t resolved my personal and spiritual conflicts, so I can’t handle this present pain.
The present situation triggers familiar painful emotions from earlier events. The brain works on association, it tells me I’ve been here before when I was young, so my brain goes back there to help me know how to respond to this present situation. The historical trigger might be only similar to my present pain in order to tap into the memories of that emotional pain. “I don’t know why I’m feeling all this stuff.” Ask yourself what happened to you recently that caused you to feel this way? Why do we cry over spilt milk? A small thing but it’s similar to the big thing back there. And the brain pulls out old pain and puts it into the present situation. And I find myself crying over something that I really shouldn’t be crying over.
Everything has a beginning, source and origin. Everything began someplace. And we want to get to the source or origin of where it first occurred. The present is a reflection of the past. So, we focus on the present but…what I’m feeling right now is coming from someplace else. We learned to feel for the first time someplace else. You need to get to the original memory or lie. If I try to resolve my present conflict without finding healing from my past wounds, I will at best only find temporary relief. But if I heal from my past, I redeem my present. Many are just putting too many band aids over present situations.
Marriages Are Not in Trouble:
It’s mostly about two wounded individuals bumping into each other’s historical woundedness. We’re simply reminding each other of where we have already been. One person says something but the way he/she said it taps into their historical woundedness and out comes that pain. By reacting to their present pain—out comes the historical pain. And the ping-pong match begins all over again. They are not reacting to the present tension but past memories and bondages—the default defense mechanisms we brought into the marriage about how to communicate and handle conflicts or challenges.
When couples have the same conflict over-and over-again, no matter what you give them to do, and they try harder, it only amounts to just either positive (try harder) or negative (stop doing something) legalism. The current feeling is just an echo of the past. And we’re simply reminding each other of where we have already been. You must learn to resolve your own personal and spiritual conflicts before you can relate in a healthy way in the present situation. You need to get to the source/origin of the pain where the lie was formed before we can think clearly in the present. Ask, “Lord Jesus, will you take me to where that lie is coming from?” He will bring truth and light to it. He is the Wonderful Counselor (Isa. 9:6; 61:1-3).
This can be an open window to find healing. They are opportunities for healing. Let’s learn to reframe the conflict. Let each other become the trigger in a positive way that allows me to see my own pain coming from someplace else. And when you willfully go there to heal, you’ll find out you didn’t have a marriage issue, but your own unresolved baggage that needed to be addressed.
Now we don’t have to work at it because my marriage really isn’t in trouble—I am! When we work on our personal individual issues of healing and we are set free, our marriages come together. I can now look through the open window of my past when I release the present situation as being the primary source of my pain in almost every scenario. Remember;
“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Eph. 4:29-32).
Reconciliation in any situation is not possible without biblical forgiveness. Two of the biggest obstacles to healthy relationships are:
1. Unresolved personal and spiritual conflicts. Before you make any attempt at reconciling a relationship, examine your own heart first.
2. Overcommitment to one’s own point of view—Pride is a killer. What is required in any relationship is humility, which is confidence properly placed in the Lord Jesus Christ.
You can contact Dr. Wasmond at JWasmond@TDS.net.