New Series on Wounds of the Past and Linkup

Bitter and SweetLately, it seems like God is dealing with me through all sorts of sources on the need to deal with old wounds that trigger me and my hubby in our marriage. It’s like everywhere I turn the subject turns to old wounds …

From my Men and Openness Survey results (see post here on how old wounds impact men ), to the many emails that my oldest son and I have been exchanging lately, to where I find myself studying in my personal Bible study times as well as small group times, to the upcoming marriage retreat that my church is holding this weekend that will be dealing with … you guessed itold wounds. 🙁

You don’t have to hit a gal upside the head more than once to make me realize this is a subject I need to unpack and explore here at Messy Marriage! 😉

Like most couples, both my husband (Gary) and I came from homes where dysfunction was prevalent.

As for my husband: His parents divorced when he was just a tot. They divorced because his father was physically and emotionally abusive.

When Gary’s mother remarried, it was to a man who ended up being very emotionally withdrawn. Many years later that marriage ended in divorce after Gary’s mother discovered her husband had been unfaithful.

After Gary married me, his mother ventured out to marry again after several years as a single. This time she found a guy that has been an amazing husband to her, father to us, and grandfather to our boys.

I’m so grateful for the blessing that my father-in-law is to our family and I only regret that their example of a great marriage did not come during Gary’s formative years. Although it has still proved to be inspiring to us now.

As for me: My parents, who are both gone now, were married for 40+ years, but the majority of those were “messy marriage” years. Even though my dad was a pastor and quite good at that, he really did not know how to be a good husband and father. He was emotionally removed from us in many ways, giving exhaustively to his congregation and to the Lord.

I know that his own father was physically abusive to at least his mother when he was growing up, which I’m sure explained much of his lack of understanding on how to be a husband and father.

I think my mom felt very isolated and unloved by my father’s withdrawal and her way of dealing with this was to criticize, argue and sometimes rage at him—hoping to prod her hubby out of his emotional slumber.

So I witnessed many extremely hostile fights between my parents … or at least my mother taking every jab she could at his resolve to remain detached and composed.

She was also sometimes emotionally combative with me, because I had withdrawn in many ways during my later childhood and teen years very similar to my father’s withdrawal.

The reason I’m telling you all of this is because I think it paints a picture that many of you can relate to and recognize.

And the odd thing is …

That gives us the kindling, if you will, for the emotional triggers we feel in our marriages. I know it has in mine.

So in the weeks ahead, I will be unpacking more of the types of triggers that I’m prone to and perhaps one or two that my husband struggles with. I also will be discussing how you can identify your own triggers and leverage this newfound understanding in your marriage to knock down the walls that currently exist with your spouse.

Next week I’ll begin with some of the “triggers” I have and what they specifically relate to from my past. I hope you’ll join me!

 

What was your parent’s marriage(s) like? The good and bad?

 

How do you think the dysfunctions of their marriage negatively impact you and your marriage?

 


Joining with my friends at Giving Up on Perfect, Wifey Wednesday, A Little R & R Wednesdays, Mondays @ Soul Survival, Coffee and Conversation, Coffee for Your Heart, Sitting Among Friends, DanceWithJesusFriday and Wholehearted Wednesday.

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FYI – I want to give a shout out to my brave mother-in-law and hubby for granting me permission to share some of the unflattering details of their lives from years ago. And moving forward in this series, please know that any details I share from their lives will always only be shared if they give me their permission to do so. They are my biggest supporters for sure! 🙂

  • Beth, I had to take a pause, re-read some things, pause again and ponder on my own journey and that of my husband. I am not a liberty to say much (need that permission!) but I am grateful for your openness and willingness to share your journey so we can all find healing! Looking forward to the weeks ahead.

    • Yes, Ngina, it’s one of those kinds of topics, isn’t it? Where we all need to reflect on our own growing up years and see the similar as well as different threads that make up our life experiences and wounds. I’m excited to get started on this journey, not only with the series, but with my husband. I’ve got some exciting things planned for us to walk through, talk through and process together and will be sharing those tools back here. Thanks for your friendship and encourage, my friend! Love ya!

  • Susan Burfoot Mead

    Yes indeed, we all bring all of our baggage with us, don’t we?!

    • Yes, and as you know all too well, Susan, sometimes the wounds continue on into adulthood. Thanks so much for joining the conversation, my friend, and being a beacon of hope for those who have experienced great loss in life!

  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Oh, heavens. I think this series is going to help a LOT of people, Beth, and I applaud and appreciate your transparency. You are leading by example, so here goes…

    The people that ‘raised’ me are dead. There was nothing in their example that could remotely be considered positive, and the one thing I learned as a child was to trust no one, and to hit first, hit hard, and put down anyone who threatened me.

    To say I was not a nice person is,perhaps, an understatement. I knew this, and wanted to be better, but the example I had also poisoned my view of the church for a long time. (What saved me was Zen, and the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path of Buddhism…I opened the door to Jesus later…but that’s another story.)

    I’ve brought a lot of this to my marriage, unfortunately…hard not to, but I do try to be aware of it, and try to understand the jagged edges that are still in my soul…and at least point them away from my wife.

    I love Barbara’s parents (her Mom died in 2013), but having written about my baggage first…I’m drained, and can’t do them justice.

    Perhaps later?

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2016/02/your-dying-spouse-117-when-its-time-to.html

    • I can understand how that kind of abuse in childhood would harden you as a young man, Andrew. Strong coping mechanisms kick-in to protect your young heart when someone so important like your parents/guardians are cruel and unrelenting in their abuse. It was your way of surviving. Succumbing to it might have made you go mad or attempt to kill yourself. So I’m glad that you did neither of those things.

      And it makes total sense that you would bring that into your marriage, unfortunately. I’m glad that you’ve worked to become aware of the baggage. And yes, those jagged edges often cut those who dare to get close to us.

      I’m so glad you had a good experience with Barbara’s parents. Sometimes the parenting or “re-parenting” we receive in our adulthood heals our wounds significantly. Thanks so much for sharing so openly and I always appreciate your encouragement and insight, my friend!

  • Oh, gosh, Beth! A topic near and dear to my heart! We all do come into our marriages with our sets of dysfunctional behaviors. Ours were blaring loudly over the last few years. During our first few years after adopting our daughter and trying desperately to cope with all the emotional and medical issues, we both regressed to our weaknesses. It wasn’t pretty … it was awful. Thankfully, we have come through to the other side of that and God has given us a strength we didn’t know we had!
    I’m so excited to follow along for this series!!! It is going to be so good and I know it will bless so many!
    Hugs,
    Lori

    • I know a bit of what you are talking about with your adopted daughter, Lori. My husband and I were foster parents for a brief time to a 10 year old girl that I had such a hard time allowing into my heart. I was so emotionally stirred by it that I went to a counselor to work through the issues and he identified counter-transference. She was being triggered from her past by her wounds when interacting with me and I was being triggered from my past by my wounds when interacting with her. It was quite a mess indeed! I’m so glad that you and your husband have come through to the other side of that. It is such a difficult journey! Thanks for joining the conversation, my friend! Hugs to you!

  • I shared my story with my new church family this past Sunday and I said that both Marcus and I were from dysfunctional families – and what do you get when 2 people with dysfunctional pasts get married? They create their own dysfunctional family. So very true. Only Jesus can heal those wounds. But we must invite Him in to do so.

    • Wow! How exciting for you and your church family, Aimee! I’m so glad you’ve gotten to share your story because I know it is one filled with brokenness that many can relate to and God’s redemption that can give many the hope of Jesus! Thanks for joining the conversation, my friend!

  • pioneerpat1

    I think that a lot of my issues are due to growing up in the house I did. I was adopted at birth into a family that shouldn’t been able to borrow a hamster from the zoo lending library. They had loss a teenager in a horrible way a couple of months before I was born, adopted brothers were basically adults when I was born and they split-I did not hear from them for two decades, dad left when I was three and I didn’t see him for 23 years and mom had too many issues to mention.

    I mention all of this is because I have a big thing with trust and people’s motives. It has affected every part of who I am.

    Looking forward to reading this series.

    • Oh wow, Patrick! That’s some major baggage with lots of unpacking for you and your wife! I hope that you’ve had some help with that because it sounds as if you’ve had more than your share of “hard-knocks” in life. Thanks for joining the conversation, my friend. Hoping this series is helpful to you!

  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    Beth,
    I definitely believe we bring our own dysfunction into our marriages. I believe wounded does seek wounded…sometimes to the point of being detrimental to the marriage. This was the story in my first marriage. I was married for 27 years to a verbally and emotionally abusive husband who was also unfaithful. Thankfully, God gave me a blessing in my husband now. He is a godly man of integrity and I thank God continually for how he brought beauty from the ashes of my life. I look forward to what you are going to share next post…
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • I’m so sorry for the pain you experienced in your first marriage, but grateful for the way God has redeemed that in your life–bringing you a godly husband after so many years of difficulty and abuse, Bev. Sounds to me like you did a lot of proactive work on your own heart and mind in order to even attract a good man like your husband. So kudos to you! Thanks for joining the conversation and for your kind encouragement!

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  • Wonderful topic. I have been blessed to have been raised by parents who are still alive & recently celebrated their 60th anniversary. Both my parents are a gift not only to me, but to our entire family – now 4 generations 🙂 Having written all that, I stopped to reflect if I have been blind to their faults. I truly have not but their “faults” have been minimal compared to the good they have shown us all over the years. I am looking forward to reading this series as you unfold it all for us.

    • That’s always great to hear, Joanne. Not every childhood is burdened by parents who were dysfunctional. But I would say it is the rare person, indeed, who escapes all types of loss, trauma or trials in childhood and beyond. That’s where we often get wounds that might not have been caused by our parents. I don’t know that that’s the case for you, but either way–wounded or not–we can all grow stronger in our marriages by working through our “triggers.” Thanks for joining the conversation, my friend!

      • Beth, I had to reply as I did not mean to imply I have escaped all types of wounds or hurts in my life. I have had my share. It is with the deepest gratitude for my parents who have always stood by me in them. I only meant to say that my wounds have not occurred due to them. I have been blessed in my life to have had parents who always pointed me to God. You are absolutely right – we must work through our triggers to grow stronger in our marriages. And may we be wise to the fact that those triggers raise their heads again & again. Grateful for your blog & the wisdom you bring!

  • Mary Flaherty

    When we were dating, Hubbles (before he was Hubbles) used to say to me, “I wish I’d known you 20 years ago” to which I’d reply-“No, you don’t. I wasn’t ready for you yet.” Truth is, we probably would have divorced had we met and married in our 20s. We were both a mess. We both had alcoholic fathers, crying mothers and my parents divorced when I was about 12. My father was unfaithful, and decided that his new model was a better choice all around for him–sans kids. My own first marriage ended in divorce because I brought the bitter roots of judgment with me, along with an overpacked suitcase of baggage. I was thinking today that a big part of why this marriage works for us is because we didn’t have children together. I know that sounds awful, but I think once kids come along, so many things change: parenting styles clash, priorities change, and our mate looks a lot less appealing than he/she did before kids. Anyway, I could go on, but I won’t! Good topic.

    • Yes, alcoholic parents … well, any “‘oholic” (addiction) is terribly hard on the kids. I’m so sorry that you and your current husband have had that kind of childhood, Mary. But I’d say you have been refined and made more wise and strong through those ordeals. So just as your brokenness might have drawn you and your husband together, so did your strength to persevere through those kinds of trials. And yes, children add another layer of complexity and “control” that is often so hard to navigate, especially with wounds in tow! Thanks for joining the conversation, my friend! Hugs to you!

  • Beth … you are courageous and brave to be unpacking the family closets. This is hard painful stuff … for some of us, just peeking inside is enough to send us running the other way.

    May God continue to give you incredible wisdom and insight like He has in the past as you process and sort through what you’re learning. May your children and their families-to-come be grateful recipients of the incredible legacy you continue to build.

    I admire you so …

    • Well, I feel like the brave one is really my mother-in-law, who isn’t used to all of this counselor and blogger stuff–laying it all out for a watching world to see, Linda! I’m so grateful that she allowed me to share her story. I think it’s one that many can relate to and offers hope as well, since she eventually found a faithful and good husband.

      Thank you so much for your kindness to me each week, my friend! I say this, not to parrot you, but the feeling of admiration for you is mutual, my friend!

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  • Mary

    I am very interested in learning to identify my own triggers. My parents had a very good marriage for over 50 years but in reflecting on what it looked like to me there were several things as an adult I remember. Mom who seemed to be a very strong woman was only strong because she relied on my dad to be her emotional support. If he was out of town, mom was not as strong and struggled with some depression as she got older. I also remember that mom and dad never fought in front of the kids. They were never loud in disagreements but it’s almost as if we didn’t see an example for how to take care of disagreements. It has made me shy away from every thing I would label as a confrontation even though this means that I don’t feel equipped at times to just stand up for myself. Overall, I was very blessed growing up but I am far from perfect. This is going to be a good series.

    • Yes, Mary, sometimes parents don’t realize how they cripple their children by never working through conflicts in a responsible and loving way in front of their kids. Gary and I didn’t hide our conflicts and this too hurt our kids. But over time we learned how to talk through them carefully in front of the kids and, when we didn’t, we were quick to apologize to each other and to them. Both ends of that process are important for kids to see and experience. Thanks for adding to the conversation, my friend! I hope this series brings you some clarity on how to identify those pesky triggers and then how to deal with them once they emerge!

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  • When I read your post yesterday, I was kind of excited since I knew my guest post “Imperfectly Perfect Marriage” would be out today and I mention dealing with past wounds!

  • JosephPote

    Oh, yes! Old wounds…they impact every relationship at some level, I think. Whether those old wounds are from our family of origin or from a previous marriage/relationship, they are there and we all have them.

    The interesting thing is that those same wounds that can be such a stumbling block can also be the basis for much empathy and grace. But first they must be recognized, grieved, and given to God.

    One of my sisters likes to ask, “Will you let God make this hurt into an altar, or will you let it become a stumbling block?”

    Thank you for broaching this important topic, Beth!

    • Oh yes, Joe! Very much so and that’s where I’m ultimately going with this series–the ability to develop empathy and grace as we explore our mate’s woundedness. And I love your sister’s thought. What a great word picture! Thanks for encouraging me, my friend! Praying for you!

  • Beth, old wounds certainly cause present pain and issues in current relationships. I look forward to your series!

    • Thanks so much, Debbie! I’m just as excited to unfold it and explore it as perhaps my readers are to hear it!

  • Hi Beth!

    I really appreciate what you’ve shared here! I originally stopped by to link up, but I was drawn in by your post. I was in a “messy marriage” for many years when I first was married (which I tend to post about on my blog) and I really look forward to more of this series. I will be back to see what you post. So interested!

    Thanks for hosting Wifey Wednesday!

    Blessings,
    Tiffiney
    WelcomeHomeMinistry.com

    • Sorry….make that – thanks for hosting “Wedded Wednesday!” Lol! :o)

    • Thanks for joining the conversation, Tiffiney! I’m glad to meet you and know that you resonate with where I’m going with this series. And no problem on the linky name! It’s very similar, isn’t it?!

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  • bluecottonmemory

    I started praying when I was 11 that God would show me the right husband for me. My parents had divorced, had multiple marriages – and, I must say, God really blessed me with an unconditional-loving man. However, I brought along quite a lot of baggage that I needed to unpack and throw out! The unconditional love of my husband has made a big difference in this journey to soul-healing! I’m looking forward to your triggers – I have my own that I’m learning how to diffuse! You are such a warrior for wholeness!
    ~Shalom, friend!
    Maryleigh

    • I’m so glad that God answered your prayer, Maryleigh! And what a wonder that at the precious and vulnerable age of 11, you began to pray such a great prayer! I know of many parents that do that for their children (myself included) but I’ve not heard of the child actually realizing the importance of it. You go, girl! Thanks for your sweet words to me. What a beautiful thing to be called–a warrior for wholeness! Love it! Hugs

  • I didn’t get to see my parents argue, but my sisters and I believed they did it behind closed doors. I knew they were not perfect, and I saw how my mum was always telling my dad that he was letting his girls get away with too many things, different from how he handled the boys and that for a long time made me think my mum didn’t love me… Until I got saved and got married…
    Now, sometimes I think one of my sons think I don’t love him too

    I am eager to follow this series Beth, I believe there will be so much to learn.

    • Isn’t it crazy how things get so tangled and misinterpreted during our childhoods, Ugochi? We can’t fully comprehend the burdens our parents carried because we were so young and naive. And when our parents don’t always agree on how to parent us, as you experienced, it can further compound the wound. Thanks so much for sharing so vulnerably, my friend. Always love hearing your perspective in the comments.

  • Pam Ecrement

    This is a great post, Beth! I speak to that as a retired Marriage and Family Therapist and a woman who has now been married for 51 years. Impacts on our marriage on my side included a precious dad who served our family well, but was so quiet I grew up unsure if his love which he did not express in words until I was already a mother myself. (Words of affirmation became a very important love-language for me.) My mother was depressed and dependent and relied on me in many ways including the care of my younger retarded and mentally ill brother. My parents did not have a bad marriage, but the things which caused them to be who they were left me growing up insecure and overly responsible. They were married for nearly 56 years before they died, but it took me awhile to not only recognize their influence on my own marriage but also to heal and grow from its imprint.

    • Yes, it does take quite a while to recognize the full impact or negative imprint our parent’s had on our lives and hearts, Pam. I realize that my parents, for the most part, did what they knew best to do–which wasn’t always best or even good for me. They were parenting out of their own woundedness as I’m sure your parents were too. But so many people don’t want to look at those wounds because they somehow feel it is about blaming the parents they love. However, as I’m certain you know, we can’t fix what we don’t acknowledge. Thanks for your encouragment, my friend. I applaud you for hard work and exploration you’ve done throughout your marriage and lifetime. Thanks also for joining the conversation. It encourages me!

  • Hi Beth,

    I seen your blog over at Faithful Bloggers.

    I grew up with just one parent and that has caused a wound in me that I didn’t recognize until I was married the first time.

    I promised I would never not be there for my children. I was onlt 16 when I had my first child.

    I knew nothing about being a loving father so I learned as I went. I had to learn how to talk to my children and not at them.

    I believe a marriage works best when both parties work on themselves. Old wounds make you think it’s your partner fault when things are not going right but really it’s your beliefs.

    Example, I was raised when children was seen and not heard. Although my wife was raised like that also, she believes our child should have more freedom to express himself.

    It took me awhile to accept that. What worked in my family as a child might be different than what will work in my family now.

    The hope shot is knowing God heals old wounds if we let him.

    Can’t wait to read more from you.

    Vernon

    • Yes, you bring up a good point, Vernon. Old wounds do tend to convince us that it’s our partner’s fault, when they are simply triggering an old wound. It’s such a strong sensation, that it seems like our partner is being extremely hurtful, when it’s simply the rawness of our wound. I’m so glad that you’ve taken time to understand your wounds and work on them in a positive way. And yes, God is the ultimate Healer of our hearts and wounds. Thanks for coming by, joining the conversation and encouraging me!

  • I am so excited for this series. Yes we absolutely all have wounds from our past. And that baggage can be the hardest thing to get past for a marriage to thrive. I’m looking forward to hearing more about your triggers.

    • I’m so glad, Charlene! And yes, I wholeheartedly agree about how it can be the biggest hurdle most couples must overcome in life and marriage. Thanks so much for encouraging me!

  • Beth,
    Love this linky. Lots of new faces. My son-in-law who has been married to our daughter for over 10 years said he wouldn’t have even considered marriage if he hadn’t seen my husband and I working at it together. He came from a broken family (actually has “3 fathers”). My parents and my hubby’s parents were great examples of loving, caring and enduring marriages.
    Blessings,
    Janis

    • That’s so great, Janis. I’m so glad that you and your husband worked persistently and proactively to bring healing to your marriage. And being able to positively influence your son-in-law and daughter is the icing on the cake! What a great legacy you’ve carved out in your life and marriage. Thanks so much for sharing that inspiring story, my friend!

  • Hey Beth,
    I love your honesty about both brokenness and healing. I’m looking forward to your next post in this series, and to coming back for on Wednesday for the link-up too. Wishing you and your family a happy Valentines Day and a blessed week!

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