5 Steps for Letting Go of Hurt in Your Marriage One-by-one, past hurts can be healed if you put in some quality time. BY SHARON RIVKIN, M.A., M.F.T.
When there's unresolved hurt in your marriage, it's hard to find happiness.
One of the greatest desires married couples have is to stay together forever and have a happy, healthy relationship. But what about past hurts with your spouse that you can’t let go? Are you finding that because of these hurts you have more pain than happiness in your relationship?
When you get hurt by your partner, you lose trust and may even feel betrayed. "If he really loved me, he wouldn’t hurt me!" After being hurt many times over, your emotions tend to close up, and your heart, in turn, shuts down your ability to be intimate, both sexually and verbally. Your partner then becomes more of a roommate than a spouse, with conversations turning from intimate exchanges to logistic-specific dialogues like, "Who’s picking up the kids? Who’s cooking dinner? Who’s making the weekend plans?" I have worked with many couples that have "lost that loving feeling" and, upon examination, it often comes down to the inability to let go of past hurts.
Use these five steps to help let go of the hurt in your marriage and to recapture the love and happiness you both once shared:
1. Identify the hurt. Go back to the first hurt and identify your reaction—did you cry, shut down, try to talk to your partner or brush it off? Did you feel you were heard and understood? After you’ve remembered the first hurt, see if the other hurts were similar. This will help clarify your feelings and give you a starting point for talking about these feelings with your partner.
2. Set a time to talk to your partner. Invite your partner to talk by letting your spouse know that even though that first hurt seemed small, it has now grown and you’re still holding onto it. By acknowledging and taking your feelings seriously, you are taking the first step to letting go of your hurt. Don’t be hard on yourself that you feel this way, just do something about it—talk to your partner—don’t hold the feelings in any longer. This will enable you to move forward.
3. Listen. The best way to really listen is to take turns talking to each other. Rather than having a dialogue, have two monologues. Put your feelings aside and for two to three minutes let your partner talk. During that time, don’t interrupt him or comment on his point of view. Really look and listen to your partner. Then switch. Taking turns listening gives each of you a chance to be heard. When you truly listen without talking, you will hear things in a very different way, and your dialogue will create a whole new perspective.
4. Bring yourself into present time. Now that you both have really listened to each other, you are in present time with a chance to let go of your past hurts. So often hurts start from a miscommunication or misunderstanding. Because you feel so hurt, you forget to check in with your partner to see if you heard him right. So check in, and by doing this, you will begin to rebuild trust with your partner because you’re listening and talking in a new way. You’re actually entertaining the thought that maybe your partner didn’t really mean to hurt you. When you can talk to each other without blame, you’ll have a good chance of resolving the hurt feelings right then and not carry them forward, thus remaining in present time.
5. Make a plan to keep your relationship current. After you have talked and expressed your hurt(s) to your spouse and you feel listened to and understood, make an agreement to talk about a hurt as soon as it occurs. Don’t let one hurt become two. If you deal with that one hurt right away, it is small and relatively easy to resolve. Once it starts building into two, three or four, it becomes bigger and harder to deal with. Stay current with yourself and your partner.
Use these five steps as a framework for dealing with hurts when they arise in your marriage. It’s not that you’ll never get hurt again, but having the tools and skills to know what to do when you get hurt will make a huge difference in how you feel about yourself, your spouse and your marriage. It’s a simple way to rebuild trust, keep the love alive in your marriage and truly live happily ever after.
Relationship and Conflict Resolution Expert, Sharon M. Rivkin, M.A., M.F.T., author of "The First Argument: Cutting to the Root of Intimate Conflict," helps hundreds of couples break the argument cycle with her proven, groundbreaking technique that resolve the most painful issues, stop repetitive conflict, save relationships, and put the love back in your relationship! Sharon has been featured in O: The Oprah Magazine, Reader’s Digest, and DrLaura.com. Visit Sharon at www.sharonrivkin.com.