Trait: I have compassion for my spouse in their areas of weakness because I understand their childhood wounds that contributed to those areas of struggle.
Last week we looked at Shirley and her difficulty with holding on to resentment and inability to forgive her spouse. I listed several things that Shirley needed to do to grow up and become more capable of releasing resentments and forgiving others. Another key area of growth that Shirley will need to be willing to daily remember her husband’s childhood wounds and that directly contribute to his areas of weakness.
I tell the story in our book How We Love (Waterbrook Press 2006) of how irritated I once used to be at my wife Kay. Fifteen years into our marriage, her weakness aggravated me to no end. The fact that she was an introvert, an avoider and a person who suffered from a chronic low grade depression made it very hard for me to connect with her. She always felt so evasive and distant. All my attempts to please her seemingly had no impact upon her ability to be more responsive to me. I’d reach my limit and then get angry at her and drift toward despondency and hopelessness. Meanwhile, my complaints and criticisms just compounded her tendency to pull away and become more depressed and self-loathing.
Then one day, everything changed. On a long drive on the freeway I begged God to help me see her in a different way… perhaps His way. I knew that my frustration and chronic dissatisfaction was only causing her to shrivel up and become more lifeless. Somewhere during the drive, I remembered some of the conversations I had with Kay about her childhood and I suddenly had a picture in my head that would forever change my view of Kay. I saw a little seven year old sitting in her childhood bedroom on her bed… alone and sad.
At that moment, all the dots connected and I realized that the lonely sad little girl was alive and well inside my adult wife’s body. For the first time in my life, I began to have compassion for her and see the childhood wounds that were still animating her adult behavior. I cried for her.
When I arrived home, I told her what had happened and that I wanted to get to know the little girl inside that I had never seen or acknowledged. I admitted that while the thought of all this scared me to pieces, we would take as much time as it took for both of use to see her and begin to love her more and more every day.
Twenty five years later, the little girl is more grown up and Milan’s little boy slowly morphed into a man. Today, we both feel grown up inside and reflect frequently upon the process of how we re-parented one another.
How about you? If you are growing toward a more secure connector, then you will be growing in your ability to have compassion for your spouse in their areas of weakness because you understand their childhood wounds that contribute to their areas of struggle.
Thanks for listening,