How to heal from hurt caused by our spouse?
Our spouse is that wonderful person in our lives, who can love us more dearly than anyone, but also can hurt us more deeply than anyone. They are the ones we are closest too, they know our vulnerability and in an ideal world should at all times respect it and also protect it. But we know, this world isn’t ideal, and there will be times that our vulnerability is hurt and we feel betrayed and less secure. How do we deal with times like this?
What happens when we feel hurt by our spouse?
When our spouse hurts our vulnerability, we feel a sense of betrayal by the one we love. We shouldn’t think that our spouse is a horrible person for hurting us, but it may be that they don’t even mean it, or don’t even understand how their reactions hurt us so much. We should remember that even at times we may do it to them, without even realising it. Both people in the relationship have the power to cause so much pain, yet also both people can bring so much deep love into a relationship. This is the reason that after being hurt, you tend to withdraw your love or intimacy, which then negatively impacts the relationship further. I am not discussing abusive relationships, or those people with personality disorders or narcissism but normal and generally healthy relationships.
A spouse may not intentionally try and hurt you, and even when he does, it is because he is hurt, himself. He may have some unresolved trauma from the past, or even his childhood, that he hasn’t fully let go of, nor healed, or he may be going through issues at work. At times this can come to the surface, so it is important to try and get to the deeper issues, and look deeper at why the person is angry, or lashes out, it may be that he wants to protect himself. Don’t automatically assume he is trying to hurt us; many times this is not his intention but because of the hurt he feels himself.
If your spouse is upset for an issue they are dealing with, they may be overly irritated and get angry at you, or may withdraw themselves and stay quieter and reserved. Men tend to become more reserved when they are trying to solve a problem and do not like unsolicited advice, but they also need their space and don’t want to feel badgered into talking. Men don’t like to talk about their problems unless it is to find a solution. A woman can easily feel hurt, that her spouse seems disinterested in her or irritated at her, but in actual fact, this is not the real reason.
When our spouse gets upset at us or vice versa, we need to take a step back and reflect upon the reason this is happening.
But how do we cope when our spouse hurts us?
So what do we do when our spouses hurt us? Please be clear, this is not about an abusive relationship, but a normal relationship when your spouse may want to just exert a bit of control and both end up hurting each other.
The most common response is to reciprocate their behaviour, so if we feel hurt by our spouse, we may lash out at them, or may hurt them in retaliation of our hurt feelings. But really all we want them to know is that they have hurt us and it has hurt our vulnerability. Lashing out is counter-productive, and the situation just escalates.
If we etch in our head the anonymous quote, “hurt people, hurt people,” this too helps us understand why our spouse may get upset at us. When people are hurt, they hurt others, without realising it. When someone gets angry over something little, there is a deep down problem that is causing them to over-react. When our spouse hurts us, we close down our vulnerability and intimacy as we feel let down by that person.
By feeling hurt by your spouse, you may not feel like having intimate sexual relations with him, in order to feel protected from the hurt. However, men do not understand this, they tend to compartmentalise, and separate the physical from the emotional. Either way, this creates a further distance in the relationship, instead of trying to work together to solve the problem and create more intimacy.
In turn, they both feel hurt by what each other has now done. Husbands will regard the lack of intimacy as an attack on them and their manhood, and feel that their wife is attacking them because they hurt them. Whereas wives will take their husband’s desire for physical relations as an insult and may feel they are just after their body. In this manner, each spouse becomes more distant. Physical intimacy is important and without it, the couple will drift further apart and this will cause all sorts of problems, thereby distancing the relationship further.
So how should we react? Don’t take it personally
When your spouse hurts you, you need to realise that most times it’s not about you. Most times they don’t even know they are hurting you. It is important to let your spouse know how you feel as many times they don’t realise it. Communicating your feelings is very important. Don’t assume your spouse knows how you feel, you may use phrases like, “what you said has hurt my feelings” or “I feel hurt by what you have just said/did.” To cool down the situation try and give them a hug, many people will just calm down, even though this is probably the least thing you want to do when feeling hurt.
Let’s look at this scenario, every household is different but let’s just take this scenario. A husband comes back from work, he’s tired and just thinks about coming home and relaxing and getting intimate with this wife. On the other hand, she has been busy running round after 3 children either running school trips and after school clubs, or homeschooling, shopping, cooking, cleaning the house, playdates etc. Kids are hungry and all she has on her mind is to finish dinner preparation, feed them, clean up, then she may have a meeting to attend, then help the children with their homework and story time before bedtime. Intimacy is the last thing on her mind, and she is usually so exhausted by the time the children go to bed.
So when the husband returns home they are both already on different wavelengths and both have different priorities.
The husband may feel hurt that the wife isn’t excited to see him when he returns home. She also feels hurt as she feels her husband just wants sexual intimacy and feels guilty she is so tired or she feels it’s an added obligation to her list of things to do.
Most women’s brains aren’t wired for a spontaneous desire for intimate relations, unless they have some calm, peace and loving words and exchanges with their husband prior to physical intimacy.
The husband has to realise, it has nothing to do with him, she didn’t actively hurt him, but he himself allowed himself to feel hurt.
When your spouse has had a bad day at work and someone hurts them, and they haven’t resolved the conflict properly, they become angry. You feel you have done nothing wrong to justify their anger. Yet it is not really aimed at you to hurt you.
Once you realise it’s not about you, and has nothing to do with you, and realise that your spouse is the one that is hurting. You can decide not to feel hurt and also realise that your spouse needs support at this time as there must be some unresolved issue he is dealing with. It’s easier said than done, but it can help when you come from a sense of realisation that it’s not about you and all about them.
Your reaction and response is important
When we are hurt our nature isn’t to naturally feel loving towards that person. But this is something we should strive for to turn the situation around. It is not at all easy, but the rewards for doing this will be great inshAllah.
.It is important to deal with the hurt and what is causing it and resolve it, because if this isn’t fixed, it will just fester further and further, like a wound which gets infected and starts spreading around the body.
It is important that we do not aggravate the situations by becoming revengeful or bitter, or lashing out against your spouse because you feel unjustifiably hurt, be the better person. Also remember, “The condition of the community will not change, until we change ourselves” so many people blame their spouse for things, yet they overlook their own faults and mistakes and by working to change ourselves, the situation itself changes.
Many women feel, if they give in, even if they feel they are being unjustly hurt, they feel that they will be a doormat. But what we should remember is when we feel hurt we should look towards our spouse to lean on and support and realise the other person is hurting, so help them and become close to them rather than running away from the problem.
When a spouse gets angry at you, instead of giving them the same treatment, actively learn to break the cycle, perhaps even try to hug them instead. This means we are making ourselves even more vulnerable and they are less likely to stay angry. If we retaliate we are allowing them to stay angry.
If they do not calm down, then pray for them that their heart opens. And that you are blessed with the strength to pursue intimacy,
We need to remember, that if we do not address the conflict, it will fester and become worse, we need to address the issues and not allow them to be brushed under the carpet by one spouse. After all, we all want to feel safe and secure and loved.
We need to detach ourselves from the situation of hurt and take a decision not to be hurt and try and understand it from their perspective. To love them unconditionally, to break down the wall they build up, to move closer to them when they move back.
This is definitely not easy and takes patience and courage but the rewards will be worth it inshAllah. Read the article on practical ways to relieve stress, to also help and the post on self-care is not selfish.
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