I have struggled in the past with getting my husband to open up to me. Men tend to struggle with feelings more than women. I don’t want to generalize so I’ll just refer to my own men in my life with a belief that you might relate on some level.
My husband, Neal, is a bleeding heart that wants everyone around him happy and tries to bring the mood up at all times. He’s a fixer. An “Everything will be okay.” kind of guy. Which for me at times can translate to “Just get over it and let’s move on.”
There are moments I’m sharing my feelings but I don’t necessarily need to be ‘fixed’. Putting words to a wound doesn’t always mean ‘be God and heal the wound’. Most often when a wound (deep hurt or emotional pain) is shared it is to communicate an area that is still healing and needs time, space, and patience.
Neal has been doing well at learning this over the past year. In fact, we both have. We never like the ones closest to us to be hurt and it is a natural instinct to want to pick them up and make it better. In many ways we can help, if an emotional wound were like a broken arm we can see a therapist and get it ‘straightened out’ to pin point exactly the area that needs to heal. We can put healthy boundaries around the emotional wound like a ‘cast’ of protection while the wound takes the time it needs to heal. And we can extend grace when the person with the ‘wound’ becomes irritable and frustrated when the wound begins to ‘itch’ because true healing is taking place. (They feel healed but you don’t want to remove the cast of boundaries too soon or it could set the healing process back further.)
What I need to learn is my husband, though he tries hard to hide them, has wounds too. These wounds need to be treated with the same respect as I expect him to allow mine to heal. The only issue is I need recognize they are present.
Allow me to go back to the broken arm scenario. If my husband broke his arm and tried to act like it wasn’t broken then it wouldn’t heal properly, most likely cause a deformity in the arm and maybe even prevent it from being used. For years he could suffer from discomfort and even miss out on life because he can’t use his arm!
Don’t you think an emotional wound not tended to would suffer the same discomforts? Over the years I’ve tried to get Neal to speak up and dig deep with me. We’d scratch the surface but never really get to inspect any wounds. Until recently.
I shared a particular wound with Neal that I needed him to recognize that it was there in the process of healing, in the ‘itchy’ phase. I’m sick of ‘wearing the cast’ but I know I’m not strong enough…yet. As I shared with Neal it prompted him to share with me. He uncovered a wound, and finally put feeling words to something that had been band-aided years – more than a decade – ago. I caused the wound so hearing this caused discomfort in me but I also knew I owed him the same respect he’d given me to acknowledge though it was old, and healed improperly it needed to be re-set and given the proper course of treatment.
His vulnerability opened up a new door to realizing I wasn’t the only one walking around with wounds that needed tending to. I’d like to think he’d come to me when it is fresh but I also know I can’t fix everything. At some point we have to trust each other to communicate and put feelings to our wounds so we can respect each other in our healing process.
Having a VOICE heals.
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