While unpacking boxes, I opened one and stared at it. Inside this box were several items that went directly in the trash.
Why in the world did I pack that stuff, pay to store it for six months, only to throw 80% of it in the trash?
Obviously, I didn’t take the time to deal with those items carefully before I shoved each one in that box.
I shook my head, laughed, and thought, “Oh well.”
Storing silly household items is one thing.
Holding onto any unhealthy marriage bag hurts.
We hold onto, pack away, and carry our wounds and hurts. Kind of like this box (and others ?♀️) that contained a bunch of useless items.
Don’t believe you do this? Let’s unpack a few unhealthy marriage bags we all need to purge.
We have them. Plenty. My pastor, Brady Boyd, talks about choosing to see past the unkind words to the heart. Often, we accept a hurt when we could let it go. I’m not dismissing your pain at all. But there’s a better choice: seek healing for those hurts and move past them.
It’s time to throw that box (and maybe a few others) away. If you shove the box in the back of the closet, it somehow gets pulled out later—when you’re tired or frustrated, or your expectations have been stomped to pieces. Every time you open this box, you revisit the pain.
In every situation in life, you have two choices: victim or victor. A victim focuses on blame, excuses, and denial. But a victor focuses on ownership, accountability, and responsibility. Do you hear words like, “it’s not my fault,” or “he makes me so mad,” or “if he’d do this, then I wouldn’t have to do blank,” come flying out of your mouth? That’s victim language.
Now’s the time to switch up your thoughts and beliefs to become a victor. Pack up that victim language in a box and burn it.
Forgetting to forget.
Has your spouse asked for specific forgiveness? Did you say you forgave him? Then why do you bring it up when the new argument starts? That’s not forgiveness, nor is it strengthening your marriage. It’s time to forget and remove that issue from the forefront of your mind. It’s time to take that box you shoved to the back of the closet, unpack it, and get rid of the contents.
Remember: forgiveness does not equal trust. Trust must be rebuilt. But forgiveness does equal forgetting what happened. Vengeance holds on to an issue (that old box of hurt) to use as a baseball bat over the other person’s head. Set yourself and your spouse free by tossing this box in the trash.
This one bites me more often than I care to admit. Sometimes when you experience a wound within your relationship, the hurt results from a false expectation rather than the actual event.
Let’s say as your anniversary approaches; you desire a dozen or two roses, a fancy restaurant dinner at a place you’ve never been, and a quiet night without the kids—think hotel room. You never clearly state anything to your husband, but you drop hints, believing he’ll pick up on them and make the magic happen. On your anniversary, he comes home from work with a lovely bouquet (not roses) and takeout from your favorite restaurant. You try to be upbeat, but it’s not the romantic getaway you expected.
He’s excited he picked up on your hints; you’re hurt because he didn’t.
Your false expectations ruin a beautiful celebration, and your husband doesn’t have a clue. Stop hinting and be honest about the things that matter to you. Unpack your expectations honestly, so the poor guy has a clue.
What hurt or misunderstanding have you withheld from your spouse? Each one builds resentment toward the other person without allowing them the opportunity to make amends. Resentment builds when we don’t confront the other person or when we assume we know the entirety of a situation, but don’t take the time to ask pertinent questions. Resentment ties back to false expectations. Often, without realizing it, resentment sneaks in because an expectation goes unmet.
The best way I know to combat resentment is to be authentic with your spouse. After all, if you can’t be real with the person who shares your life (and your bed), how can you be open with anyone else? Open this box carefully, unpacking each resentment with a qualified third party. You need a new perspective. Don’t open every box you can find and dump the contents on your spouse. Just like that strategy would make a disaster of my office, dumping everything all over the place in your marriage isn’t a good plan either.
As I continue to unpack the remaining boxes, I wonder how many other items will go in the trash.
Frankly, I’m sure there’s a bit more. But, with each unnecessary item removed, life feels more spacious.
Is it time to create space in your marriage for a few new beginnings by tossing those unhealthy marriage bags?
At this time of year, we look forward to what’s next. Look around you. Unpack the boxes and willingly discard all the baggage that hurts your relationship. Breathe new life into your marriage through honest communication. Roll up your sleeves together to get rid of the boxes once and for all.
When I was first married, I never anticipated a day I’d need a coach to help save my marriage. But, that day arrived when we faced down a giant shock to our marriage—the beast of pornography addiction and my feelings of betrayal.
Because we are more than ten years past that horrible time, I can see God had plans to remake our marriage into something stronger and much better than either of us imagined. For that, I gratefully confess our brokenness, our need of a Savior and others who helped us discover how to live authentically. It’d be an honor to help you. Being hurt by your spouse is so unbelievably painful, but it’s not fatal. If you need help, please reach out. I promise to listen without judgment and help you take the next step.