If your marriage is in trouble, you may find yourself lashing out at your spouse or kids. You may find yourself retreating into the deepest parts of your mind to try and escape the turmoil. These are all coping mechanisms we use to try and shield our hearts from pain.
These coping behaviors did not begin with our spouses; they began with our past. Regardless of the family situation you were born into the way we were cared for and treated by others has left an impression. The painful emotions you are feeling now, likely stem from experiences you’ve had since childhood. Because these feelings of fear, anger, or distress have become ingrained in us, our reactions to certain behaviors have become automatic.
Our histories, good or bad, have a large impact on how we view and interact with the world.
Let’s consider love, because the way you are loved tells you everything you will know about your identity and who you are. If you feel worthy, precious, and valued, you were likely loved in just that way by your parents or caretakers. If you feel unworthy, insignificant, and worthless, you probably picked that up from bad information or no information from someone who was supposed to love you.
These primary emotions from our histories are similar to “hot buttons,” representing sensitive issues that existed for us coming into marriage. When these buttons from the past get pushed in our current situations, we are slammed with the weight of emotion that can be summed up as feelings of being unloved or unsafe.
It’s important to remember, though, that God is resolute in His expression of trustworthiness and faithfulness. As it reads in Deuteronomy (7:9): “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant to love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands”
What reassurance we have that, in Him, our marriages and relationships can also be restored!
Take a little time to consider your history. Think about those coping behaviors that you use when in conflict with your spouse. You might find opportunities for forgiveness in your marriage. And, as you look to tomorrow, it might help you discover new ways to extend grace to your spouse and even yourself.