In a couples counseling session for marriage forgiveness, I ask the injuring partner to stay emotionally present and acknowledge the wounded partner’s pain. Also to own his or her part in the injury. When injured partners see that this pain has been recognized by the injuring spouse, he or she can then begin the process of letting it go. The wounded partner is able to stop focusing on protesting and demanding that the other partner fully acknowledges the injury and begin the process of forgiveness.
The injuring partner may have defensively withdrawn into a cycle of shame and self-blame so part of my goal is to help that partner stay present. I explain that in the real world, mistakes by loved ones are going to occur. Everyone falls short of perfection and hurting your partner will happen. There is no perfect spouse, no flawless knight in shining armor. No princess that is always loving and selfless. It is inevitable that all will stumble and tread on each other’s toes as he or she dances the dance of love.
In our counseling sessions together, this may be the first time he or she has truly tuned in to the other partner’s attachment messages and finally begins to understand the pain he or she has caused. It is a time to help the hurt partner to stay emotionally present and accept the partner’s changed response.
The injuring partner may say, “Now I am beginning to understand why you became so angry and withdrew from me. I was not there for you when you needed me in your cancer diagnosis. I dealt with my fear by working more and I wasn’t there for you.” His wife lets out a sigh of relief. He finally is getting it. He continues by saying, “How could I have been so distant in a time when you needed me the most? I turned to work as a way to avoid my fear of losing you. Will you ever forgive me?”
Now, the injured partner can begin his or her work of forgiving and taking more risk to trust the injuring partner with his or her heart. Letting go of past injuries requires the injured partner to forgive and turn toward rather than continue the pattern of turning away. The emotional wall that was built to keep the injured partner safe, will need to be pulled down.
Are you and your spouse currently in a situation that one of you feels hurt and wounded but the other partner hasn’t been able to connect or be attuned to the pain? Do you both withdraw from the relationship because of the fear of more pain or more feelings of shame? In Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, a major aspect of the healing process is to emotionally connect in a safe environment and to process any past wounding. Call our marriage and family counseling center today to setup a session with a marriage counselor.