Relationship triggers: Do you find yourself dancing around the same problem, walking on eggshells, afraid to upset the status quo?
But in your heart, you know your marriage will never thrive until the elephant in the room (or your heart!) is addressed?
Are you constantly ticked off by something your spouse does (or does not do) but have vowed never to address the issue again because it gets everyone upset?
Last week during physical therapy, my physical therapist said to me, “You know, you need to learn how to work through the pain on your back.”
“You mean like learn how to relax my back?” I asked feeling good about my awareness.
“No,” she said “I mean work through the pain. You are too gentle with it. Push yourself a little.”
I was thinking about her words later when the word “trigger points” came to mind. Only this time I wasn’t thinking about my physical trigger points but relationship triggers (See also To The Wounded Wife: Surviving the Trigger and Embracing Healing)
Those delicate matters, the elephant in the room, the habit that needs to die but you think “I’ll start tomorrow.” These things that wreak havoc in the background of our relationship but we avoid them because they hurt so bad.
The matters we avoid because they are too painful and they get everyone upset. So you would rather lay there, maritally sick than knead the sore point.
You would rather withdraw, shut down (or spew off, blame and accuse) than attack the actual issue. (See When Your Husband Shuts Down)
The Relationship Triggers Dance
Most people hate pain.
And for the most part, that’s a good thing because a healthy fear of pain keeps us alive and protects us from harm. However, there are other types of pains we were never meant to avoid. Like growth pain for instance.
The Bible has a lot to say about growth pain.
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11 ESV
Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid. Proverbs 12:1 ESV
Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. Proverbs 13:24 ESV
But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:27 ESV
From these verses, we can see that growth is synonymous with discomfort.
If you are waiting for the perfect, most convenient, least uncomfortable time to address issues of your marriage, you’ll miss all opportunities for growth.
Of course, there’s a place for wisdom when addressing delicate issues. I am not suggesting a blind “press through the pain” without wisdom.
After all, it’s the Holy Spirit who guides us into all truth. We are not (or should not be) self-led Christians. We are to be Spirit-led. But sometimes it’s fear and pain that holds us back, not godly wisdom.
Pressing Past Relationship Triggers
Now, if you know anything about physical therapists, especially those that know their stuff, you know they don’t ease off because you groaned, squirmed and cried on the therapy table.
Mine doesn’t. She kneads and presses: right into the pain. Sometimes I think I’ll die, but she seems to know how much I can take because she has her hands on me. (And we are in constant communication )
If you know anything about God, you know His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. And nothing can separate us from His love. He’s got His hand on our lives.
“Ultimately, you’ll get healed by learning to press through the pain,” my therapist told me.
Ultimately you and I get whole by pressing beyond the trigger points. Not by avoiding them. We get healed when we stop camping on the trigger itself and start addressing the real issues underneath.
This past weekend my husband and I had to leave church early because I was in a lot of pain. As we exited, a greeter casually asked us: “You got bored?”
We laughed it off. Until we got to the car. Where I exploded.
My husband listened to my rant and then gently interjected “Babe, you are feeling bad because you had to leave church early. It’s not the guy. He was just joking.”
I didn’t want to hear of it “Babe, he’s an usher..his job is NOT to make fun of people or make them feel bad when they leave a service early!”
But eventually, I had to admit that (even though the gentleman could have done a better job of making people feel welcomed, whether they left church early or not) he was not responsible for my hurt feelings.
I was simply feeling disappointed with myself already and he just happened to pick at a sore spot.
Without my owning up, I would have 1) nursed a bad attitude 2) missed the opportunity to surrender the real issue to God.
Ultimately, we make progress when we stop blaming outside circumstances and instead turn to God and ask Him to heal us.
Handling the Disappointments
I once supposed that delayed answers and wrestling through issues implied weak faith. After all, if our faith was strong and we were “spiritual enough” wouldn’t that equal quick liberation by God?
But I have come to learn that wrestling through issues (as opposed to a quick deliverance) doesn’t make the road less spiritual.
The same God who delivers one addiction by a miracle is the same God who delivers another through a long process guided by a counselor.
Just because you have to work through a lengthy method doesn’t make you less holy. It doesn’t mean you are abandoned.
I have wrestled with feelings of abandonment in the last few months. I’ve wanted things to go a certain way, namely faster, less painful but it seems God is bent on taking me through the longer route. (See When Your Spouse is Sick – 6 Reminders to Help Navigate the Season)
But even with that knowledge, I’ve had seasons of despair and numbness. But one of the things God uses to climb me out of my dark holes? Reminding me He’s God even in the valley.
That He’s not the God of mountain tops only, He is also God in the valleys. I can call on Him, in the here and now, and allow Him to walk with me. He’s not waiting for me on the other side; He’s right here in my stormy season.
I am not abandoned and neither are you
Are you feeling triggered today? Are you heartbroken? Are you grieving? Are you doubtful? Are you hurt and afraid to open your heart again?
The path to your healing, restoration is lined with work. And quite likely pain. Since you can’t be brave alone, you have to invite God in.
Vulnerability doesn’t take place overnight. Wounds take time to heal. But we need to at least get on the road to healing. We need to tear down this camp and get up.
We need to talk to our Father about the hurt and pain and doubt. Instead of dancing around the marriage tender spots, we need to invite God in.
I invite you to pray the following personalized Scripture prayer – Ephesians 3:16-21 – as a starting point. Great things happen when we begin to see ourselves the way God does.
“Father, I pray that from Your glorious, unlimited resources You will empower me with inner strength through Your Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in my heart as I trust in Him.
My roots will grow down into Your love and keep me strong. And may I have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep Your love is.
May I experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then I will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Now all glory to You, who is able, through Your mighty power at work within me, to accomplish infinitely more than I might ask or think. Glory to You Father in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.”
Remember this – God will never send you where He isn’t already. Allow Him to lead you to those courageous places. Even when those positions feel more broken and more fragile than you want. There’s beauty in brokenness when God’s in it.
Are you wrestling with the overwhelm of new marriage and long for a step by step guide on how to kick out fussing, anger, passive-aggressiveness from your relationship? Want to restore joy, healing and happiness to your marriage? Or maybe you just want to love better, create the marriage of your dreams, God’s way. Your marriage can change! Get on the road to a great marriage when you pick up my book Blues to Bliss: Creating Your Happily Ever After in the Early Years -> Amazon Paperback I Amazon Kindle I Barnes & Noble I PDF I UK/Europe PDF . Or click here to go to book page