What has mental health got to do with the stability of a marriage? Take a seat as we discuss the impacts of the traumas of our past on the future of our relationships.
Many times, we get attracted to an external assessment of our prospective spouse but fail to realize, that this person isn’t just the personality expressed or projected but an embodiment of a spirit, a soul and a body.
“Just because someone looks physically healthy on the outside and claims to fear God doesn’t imply that they are emotionally stable.”
We can’t isolate one aspect of our lives at the expense of the other two because when you decide to get married to someone, you’re getting married to their spirits, their souls and their bodies. When couples are getting serious, they are proud to introduce also an external assessment of this person to their friends and families, hoping they will be excited too.
Parents are usually excited when a potential suitor has the pedigree, career and future prospects that fits their mental image of an in-law, but nobody has got the time to look beneath the surface and ask pertinent questions about the true conditions of their soul and spirit. Don’t get married in a hurry, take your time to crosscheck all the details of what you’re getting into.
During courtship, couples are very careful not to ruffle the waters or rock the boat, so they stay away from certain questions as some topics are not up for discussion. What you don’t know might be what will eventually destroy your marriage. Now is the time to ask any and every question as assumption is only the beginning of many more conflicts ahead.
People who have physical or underlying medical conditions get married but it’s usually sad if these ailments are not disclosed before a commitment is made. The treatment and care for these underlying conditions will take a toll on you physically, emotionally and financially. You want to be sure the Lord is leading you, so you don’t carry a cross you were never meant to bear.
We’ve said time and again that we can’t afford to get married to someone who ‘goes ‘ to church but someone who is in touch with God and under the absolute control of God’s Spirit. Couples who get married to partners who have neither surrendered their lives to Jesus nor discovered God’s purpose for their lives, cannot fully describe the nightmare they are forced to endure with someone who lacks the capability to walk in the Spirit.
“You want to be sure the Lord is leading you, so you don’t carry a cross you were never meant to bear.”
Just because someone looks physically healthy on the outside and claims to fear God doesn’t imply that they are emotionally stable. Many people in our families, churches and communities have borderline emotional disorders and only a major crisis will trigger these issues. Many spouses assumed their spouses were ok till there was a bankruptcy, failure or a divorce and their mental health nosedived.
Marriage is such a huge risk, only God knows the truth, but we pray that as we make that risky commitment to spend the rest of our lives with a certain person that they are and will remain physically healthy, spiritually alive and emotionally stable for a lifetime.
Many of us are from dysfunctional homes and have endured severe traumatic events. With little or no counselling, we have transitioned from children to adults with our own unique coping and surviving skills. Some of us assumed we were healed and had moved on from some of what left a scar in our hearts, but marriage has a way of allowing the residues of these traumas to rear its ugly head when we least expect it.
Unfortunately, only an external assessment of anyone’s emotional well-being is inadequate. But you can glean more information about your prospective spouse’s mental health by asking them inquisitive questions. Hopefully they trust you and will feel vulnerable and secure to disclose their history with you.
On a general note, we have all had a fair share of issues growing up but some categories of people have been battered far more than the rest of us. Some people have struggled and tumbled with so much. They say that life has been unfair to them, due to no fault of theirs, they have wrestled with much more than the average person.
“Our past doesn’t need to define our future, but it should enable us connect the dots as we make our journey towards healing and wholeness.”
Those whose parents have been divorced, have a certain perspective about God, life and marriage. The chances are high that they would also be divorced especially if they never saw the opportunity of couples fighting together for their marriage. Sometimes, they regret and wonder if they could have done anything to save their parents’ marriage.
They carry so much anger in their hearts toward men or women if it was their father or mother who walked out of the marriage and abandoned them as young children. They also struggle with trusting people because they have experienced first-hand what it means to be abandoned.
Those who have lost their parents or siblings at a very young age and have had little or no grief counselling, have a part of their hearts aching with no closure. They get married and their spouse is clueless why they continue to struggle with bouts of fear and depression.
Even those who have survived a robbery attack or ran into an unplanned riot or witnessed a bloody accident still struggle with fear and often with flashbacks of those incidents. There are many people who can’t sleep without pills or continue to take a medication to manage their anxiety and panic attacks.
Many kids who were raised in violent homes and neighborhoods have come to accept violence and abuse as the norm. They grew up around very angry family relatives, forgiveness, compromise and reconciliation are rather strange concepts to them. Their spouse still doesn’t understand why they always have to raise their voice or why they walk out of discussions and have become so controlling and domineering.
Those who have been raped and sexually abused as children or young adults all have their fragile hearts torn apart by these events, but the secret remains behind tight lips as they fear that their spouses will neither believe them, judge them or look down or even disown them. And we begin to wonder why some spouses are so needy and clingy and seem to be unable to move on with their lives.
Even those from so-called Christian homes with godly parents who grew up with so much toys and tuition but had no hugs and cuddles can only describe the loneliness and isolation they experienced as their parents walked in the door and out the next day with little or no time to read a bedtime story or kneel beside their bed to pray but were handed over to nannies and drivers for their daily care and nurture.
Many who became surrogate parents to their younger siblings, still have lots of unanswered questions. Those who had absent or authoritarian fathers, wonder how they will be ever be a good example of who a father should be especially when they saw no role model to look up to.
Children who spent significant portion of their childhood in an orphanage or in foster care struggle the most with the fear of neglect and abandonment. There is usually a gap between what they have been told and the true story. They get on as adults with a blank portion of their lives unknown to them that still haunts then even after marriage.
Some other people had a great childhood, but something didn’t feel right, they were raised in homes where their ‘voice’ was never heard, or their opinions were never considered. They get married and never feel comfortable about speaking up or sharing any great ideas with their spouse. Couples who struggle with major communications issues never realize that something from their past is responsible for this.
Others were raised by controlling and domineering parents who never gave them an opportunity to be responsible or lead. After they get married, these people either are unable to step up to the plate to draft a vision for their families and so their spouse and kids continue to bear under a leader who has no clue where they are headed or they repeat the same mistake handed to them by their parents and become overbearing and controlling as their spouse and kids become invisible family members.
And rest of us might be struggling with bouts of guilt, regret and shame from something we did or didn’t do and that event haunts us for a lifetime. With our brokenness and baggage, we get married, hoping marriage will fix our emotional maladies but it rarely does but only magnifies the problem we have carefully kept a secret and masked with our careers, gadgets and personalities.
Our past doesn’t need to define our future, but it should enable us connect the dots as we make our journey towards healing and wholeness. Spare yourself the heartache of getting married to someone you can’t be yourself with, you are either afraid or ashamed to share the vulnerable parts of your hearts with them.
It’s so vital to disclose all past issues with your prospective spouse so you both can come to the cross and trust God for the future. Where one spouse refuses to disclose these traumatic events, the secrets bloom and the marriage is exposed. When the mental health issues begin many years after the wedding, spouses are usually shocked to hear the breaking news of their partner’s aching heart.
Those who have been through a trauma should be more mature than the rest of us because they have been stretched physically, spiritually and emotionally but many times they are still broken, hurting and emotionally unwell. We can’t afford to get married to people who are not whole especially if we haven’t heard from God.
Marriage is a ministry and not everyone has got the grace for it. You don’t want to be stuck with someone who constantly reminds you of your past and keeps you up all night plotting your escape.
May God send a godly spouse who will partner with His Spirit to continue and complete your journey to healing and wholeness.
The crux of the matter isn’t whether you’ve been through a trauma or not but if you have been healed and made whole by the great Healer. Our God is Jehovah Rapha, no broken heart is beyond His healing. Many of us mask our pain with all sorts and get married, then our spouse has no clue about what we’ve been through. till the day we ‘explode’.
Traumatic events especially in our childhood leave behind with three major emotions: sadness, anger and fear. The curved balls that life throws at us should be make us better and not bitter. If you or your prospective spouse is constantly sad, violently angry and struggles with a crippling fear, these are tell-tale signs of a lot more issues from their past.
A story in the Bible is told about ten lepers Jesus healed. While they were on their way to the temple, one of the lepers looks at himself and sees he was healed, he stops at some point and returns to give thanks to Jesus. He was aware of the condition he had carried for so long and he could identify the point when he was healed and made whole.
Many of us don’t know how much baggage we are carrying about from our past, and so we are unable to see the impact it has on our relationships but when we begin the journey towards healing and wholeness, it will be clear to us and to others when we have been made whole. Let’s not treat the symptoms but instead attack the root causes. Sadly, many people are putting a plaster on what needs an urgent surgery.
Pending when we are healed, we can’t add any value to our relationships, we will continually be looking to people to fix us instead of God. Our brokenness and baggage will eventually and easily be transferred to our children as our parenting skills will be impacted by it.
If and when we are delivered from the strongholds of anger, sadness and fear, we will be more confident, joyful with a bright outlook on life and able to be a blessing to others. May God use your aches and pains to bring hope and healing to our world. Amen
Don’t get married to someone who currently provides the palliatives for your symptoms because when you finally get healed, your relationship will no longer be relevant. Instead get married, if you would, to someone who will grow with you to lay hold of all God has in store.
Don’t add any more stress to what you’re already struggling with, don’t pretend like all is well when it isn’t. God won’t bless who we pretend to be, it’s time to take the masks off and come to the cross where Jesus died today. God still heals broken hearts, impossibilities is where He starts, wonders are what He does.
Some people medicate the pain from their traumatic past with alcohol, unhealthy relationships or even church activities. Others hope that getting married will bring some respite, but it rarely does. Marriage is not a cure for the trauma you’ve experienced growing up, Jesus is the answer, only He can bring calm and cure to the chaos of our broken hearts.
God wants us healed and whole. Broken couples can’t achieve much with their lives. They will continue to go round in circles till they find healing and deliverance at the cross. The two shall become one: Two broken pieces in the hands of the Healer can truly become one. Two are better than one: Two healthy spouses are better than two broken partners.
Don’t be mesmerized by that elegant lady who is so attractive with her glittering jewels and make up or that extroverted guy who has got the latest gadgets and has got every lady dying to talk to him, underneath the masks we’ve all put up are broken hearts in need of a Savior.
Don’t join the staggering statistics of unhappy couples running from pillar to post trying to resolve the symptoms of a great issue from their past. That’s another reason, you can’t afford to get married without structured pre-marital counselling.
Counselors have been trained to navigate the murky waters of mental health and its debilitating effects on marriages.
What you don’t know might be what will eventually destroy your marriage.