“Our marriage is just fine. I don’t know what he’s on about. He should be grateful he’s married to someone like me. After everything I’ve done him…”
“Sure, we have our problems, just like every other couple. But it’s nothing to get freaked out about. We don’t need couples counseling. The only reason I agreed was to get her off my back.”
When a relationship begins to break down, the very first reaction is to deny there’s anything wrong.
We want to believe our marriages are just fine. There’s nothing wrong. Or, if there is anything wrong, it’s just on the surface.
We love each other. Really. And if we don’t get along sometimes, that’s perfectly normal.
That attitude has a name: Denial. You may be holding on for dear life, but it’s not helping you. It’s preventing you from healing what’s wrong.
Once upon a time, when I was in my twenties, I went trail running in the mountains with a girlfriend. It was dark, and on the way back I stumbled and went down on one knee … right into a rock. I kneeled in the mud, fighting off a wave of dizziness. My running partner stopped and asked me how I was. “Fine!” I said. “Just give me a minute.”
I was embarrassed. I could feel blood soaking into my sock, but I didn’t want to admit I was hurt. We were still a few miles out, and neither of us had a phone to call for help.
By denying that I was hurt, I was able to get back on my feet and run back home. Even then, I didn’t want to look at the gash. I didn’t want to know how bad it was. I took a shower, then covered my knee up with a bandage and carried on with my evening. To this day, you can still see the scar on my knee.
The worse the wound, the less anyone wants to look at it.
By denying that there’s anything wrong, you can force yourself to keep going. It gives you an odd sort of strength. It enables to you to carry on, perform at work, maintain the illusion that everything’s okay, and not break down. Life is depending on you. You don’t have time to deal with problems like this.
Because if you stop and look at where you’re wounded … you’ll never be able to un-see it.
You’ll have to stop what you’re doing. You won’t be able to carry on with life as normal. Everything you know and love will turn upside down. You’ll have to face the fact that you might lose life as you know it.
What I learned back then is that refusing to see where you’re wounded means you can’t help those wounds heal. You’re trusting that they’ll heal on their own, without your help. They may heal, if you’re lucky, but they’ll leave a nasty scar.
Look at where your relationship is hurting. Have the courage to ask what it needs to heal. Just as good doctors don’t blame their patients for needing medical help, so relationship professionals won’t blame you for needing relationship help.