I have often heard people say that “time heals all wounds”. Tell that to Paige, a 37-year-old mother who cannot commit to any relationship 10 years after getting a divorce from her previous husband. Tell that to Johanna, a woman who has held onto to her resolve to never marry, 32 years after the man she gave her heart to cheated on her. Tell that to Jeremiah, a handsome 40-year-old playboy who goes on multiple dates but refuses to make any one woman his own, and whose last real exclusive relationship ended 8 years ago.
For Paige, Johanna, and Jeremiah, time has done nothing to heal their wounds. After getting hurt in previous relationships, they each decided to put up invisible walls to keep their hearts safe. Upon living this way for a few years, they started to realize that something was missing. They discovered that the walls which they designed to keep hurt out did not allow love to enter in. After conversing with them, they came to see that the invisible walls which promised protection in theory was delivering imprisonment in practice. Though they were safe, they were not free – their fear of getting hurt was holding them hostage. For Paige, Johanna, and Jeremiah, the only thing time did was starve them of love and increase their desperation for freedom.
To better understand the nature of hurts in relationships requires us to look to our natural environment. In the world we live in, our bodies will experience disease, whether it be as simple as the common cold or as complex as cancer. The same is true of relationships. The nature of relationships is that we will experience “dis-ease” of some sort that will cause us to hurt. In relationships, we do not get to choose whether we get hurt – this is because nobody is perfect, and our imperfections give rise to hurt. What we do get to choose is who is worthy enough to hurt us, regardless of whether those hurts are common hurts or cancerous hurts.
Common hurts are hurts that all of us will experience in a relationship. Examples of things that lead to common hurts include breaking a promise, using unkind words, and getting angry for no good reason. Like the common cold, sometimes we get it from people and sometimes we give it to people. These hurts are so common, that like the common cold, we mainly consider them a nuisance and nothing more.
Common hurts normally get better and heal with time. Even so, just like the common cold, the time taken for a common hurt to heal depends heavily on the starting health of those of us affected. If we are not spiritually, psychologically, or emotionally healthy, we will take more time to recover from a common hurt. If we are fighting a previous major relationship dis-ease, we may never get over a common hurt.
A person who has not recovered from a past major relationship issue or hurt may bow out of a present relationship due to a minor or common issue or hurt
The way Paige’s last relationship ended is an extreme example of this phenomenon. Six months before she came to me, she met a man who treated her well, cared for her children, and was willing to move heaven and earth to be with her. He was everything she wanted in a man. So why did she end the relationship? She told me she ended it because did not like the way he chewed his food? She knew it was a silly reason in her head, but her heart could not move beyond it. She focused so much on this one issue that it consumed her world. It made her resent him so much that she finally broke up with him.The regret etched on Paige’s face was evident as she acknowledged her decision to shut love out of her life.
As the pain of this acknowledgment took over, she tried to lessen it by justifying her actions. She convinced herself that she was preventing herself from being hurt in the future. She also made belief that she was protecting the man from being hurt as well. Finally, she came to the point where she was no longer willing to excuse away her decision. She admitted that she was afraid of opening her heart once again to possibility of experiencing future hurt. Therefore, she had mentally predetermined the destiny of their relationship before it ever started. If the way he chewed his food did not cause her to end the relationship, she would have found another reason. The poor man never stood a chance! Ironically, the wall she put up to prevent hurt caused both the man and her to hurt.
Cancerous hurts are on the opposite end of the spectrum. These hurts are sudden, unexpected, and come as a shock to us. One day everything seems fine, the next, our world is turned upside down. Cancerous hurts impact the blueprint we designed for our lives in that they alter how we thought our life was going to end up. Unlike common hurts which present themselves as a nuisance as we go about our love life, cancerous hurts are grave dilemmas that take over our love life and will kill it off in time if not addressed.
For more information on recovering from past relationship hurts, please visit How to Heal From Your Past Hurts.