Two families have been in the news in recent days. The family of Jaycee Dugard who was found 18 years after her abduction and the family of the reality TV show “Jon and Kate Plus 8.” Both families have one thing in common – extreme stress that led to marriage breakdown. The first family did not ask for it, the second is debatable. While most families might not go through such stress or breakdown, they have deep wounds that have never healed. Sadly, the hurts get passed down to the next generation. Just like a physical wound, the sooner the proper healing begins the better it is for all involved. How can this healing take place? Let’s begin with what does not heal.

  1. Guilt or blame casting do not work. Our grandparents, Adam and Eve, blamed one another and the rest is history.
  2. Half-hearted or brief efforts do not work. Understand that healing is a process that takes time, right guidance and willingness to change.

Next, understand the main causes of marital wounds:

  1. Differing expectations of marriage. Shaunti Feldhahn conducted hundreds of surveys with men and women and documented the results in her books For Women Only and
    For Men Only. One result was that the greatest need in a woman is affection but the greatest need in a man is respect. It’s like going to the auto parts store and ordering a hamburger!
  2. Failure to expect selfishness in marriage. Our natural bent is to look at things from our own perspective. Instead of becoming the right person, we are always trying to change the other person.
  3. Failure to work through difficulties and trials. As Ephesians 4:26-27 reminds us “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” Remember, your marriage has an enemy and it is not your spouse.
  4. Failure to recognize the changing seasons of life. In his book Seasons of a Marriage,
    H. Norman Wright  devotes a chapter to each season – season of expectation; season of the twenties and thirties; season of mid-life; and season of the empty nest. Lack of understanding and preparation can be serious.

Healing can happen if the following three ointments are

  1. Intimate understanding and acceptance of yourself. Many marital conflicts stem from a poor self-image and insecurity. Mostself-help books only lead to more selfish thinking. The Bible will give you the right image of yourself from God’s perspective, as seen in Psalms 139:14 says I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
  2. Intimate relationship with your mate. Dennis Rainey of FamilyLife gives a short
    and to-the-point premise of his book Staying Close – “Your marriage will naturally move toward a state of isolation.” The goal of every marriage should be oneness that leads to a growing understanding and appreciation of one another.
  3. Intimate relationship with God. This is the most essential of the three. It begins when we make the Bible a priority in our lives. As we hear, meditate and obey His Word, the Holy Spirit comes in all fullness to occupy our inner being. As a result the life of Christ becomes real in us and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”(Philippians 4:13). Now we can change, forgive and accept our mate as God’s gift to us. The hurts don’t stop but we have someone who helps us heal and keep growing towards oneness.

How about those cases where one partner is no longer available for healing? Ask God to heal you. His grace is sufficient.

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