Written by Glen Denlinger
There are numerous functions and purposes for marital love. One our society doesn’t talk about enough is the healing function of marriage. As children we all experience woundedness, some more so than others. In addition to struggles from childhood, emotional pain is something we experience and accumulate all throughout life.
Love, Warts and All
Marriage has a unique comforting and healing component to it. Allowing someone to intrinsically love us, warts and all, is part of that healing component and especially so for our childhood pain. Frequently we hold back from being vulnerable in our closest relationships and limit that healing.
Sometimes, too, love unfortunately becomes toxic and it isn’t safe to be vulnerable. When that happens, ideally it is only for a season. We learn to work our way out of negative emotional cycles and keep growing forward together with our partner. Couples therapy is designed to help us turn our marriages around and make them safe places where transparency and vulnerability occur and healing happens.
Growing Past the Disappointments
Another way marriage is designed to heal is by disappointing us. That may sound strange but after the honeymoon phase of love, disillusionment often sets in. Sometimes the disillusionment phase doesn’t come until many years later. Choosing to love a spouse when they disappoint us can grow us up inside and bring healing, growth and maturity to a fractured and wounded self.
While paradoxical, it’s somewhat like the benefit forgiving provides the person doing the forgiving. Counselors will tell you there are several types of forgiveness. There is the healthy and functional type, but there is also the doormat and enabling type which doesn’t promote healing at all.
Marriage counseling, or couples therapy, is designed to walk you through both the childhood pain and resulting toxic emotional cycles, as well as through disappointments and disillusionment that often show up in long-term relationships. We all get to choose how our love grows or stagnates.
Doing the Work
Is your marriage or significant relationship one that provides healing and growth for both you and your partner? If not, help is readily available. Changing and improving the relationship to make it healing is worth all the effort it takes to make that happen.