Life is about relationships. From your marriage to your family and friends, everything in our lives is built around relationships. At the center of that is our relationship with God, who designed us for community.
That's the good news: Relationships are part of God's plan. He uses relationships to bring us joy and happiness. The bad news is that sin has made us imperfect people, and those imperfections can damage our emotional health which then has a significant impact on our relationships.
You're not going to be happier than your ability to enjoy your spouse or get along with other people. In other words, the level of your personal happiness and personal satisfaction depends on your relationships, and the level of your relationships depends on your emotional health.
When Karen and I got married, we were not emotionally healthy people. We were young, immature, and emotionally devastated. We loved each other. We were attracted to each other and wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. But we fought constantly. We were the walking wounded. Both of us came out of dysfunctional homes where our parents didn't know the Lord (though they eventually came to Christ). As a result, Karen thought she was ugly. She was full of self-hate and believed God hated her. I've never known a person who had lower self-esteem than Karen.
I was messed up, too, with my own self-esteem issues. I tried to cover these up by being macho and acting like I didn't have any problems. It made me hesitant to admit weakness, to show emotion, or to have any kind of intimate conversations with her.
The result was a marriage that was damaged from the beginning. We were like two porcupines trying to love each other. Every time we got close to each other we caused pain. So we would back away, try to heal up, and then approach each other again only to encounter the same hurt, time after time.
Our emotional baggage was destroying our ability to build a healthy relationship with each other. We had too much individual hurt in our lives to share ourselves with another person. It even impacted the way we related to God. We almost divorced because our emotional health was so compromised.
God only healed us when we admitted those issues and began the process of dealing with them, rather than ignoring them or burying them. The emotional healing process took us years because we didn't know what we were doing.
Psalm 107:20 says, "He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions." God ministered to Karen and me through His Word, and He can minister to you, too. He can heal you and deliver you from the things that are hurting you, harming your relationships, and damaging your marriage.
Before anything else, you must admit those hurts to God and open your heart to Him. Let Him begin the healing process. He'll help you release negative emotions, take captive your negative thoughts, and bring you total freedom from your pain. When He does, your life and marriage will never be the same.
Founder & CEO of Marriage Today
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