Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Dealing With Pain In Healthy Ways

The older I get the more I realize I will have to live more pain than I used to endure. Exercise, playing with grandkids and sometimes just moving around during the day leave me achy much of the time. And thankfully we have products easily available to us that can help lessen those sore muscles and joints.

However, we often face different kinds of pain in our relationships, especially marriage. While we may think that our marriage was made in Heaven, we still hurt each other, sometimes on purpose, sometimes not. We also encounter the pain of not being the spouse we had hoped to be or having not overcome some personal struggle that still impacts our relationship.

It can be painful when we're not communicating well and we don't know quite what to do to fix things. It hurts when the demands of both being married and a parent overwhelm us and we have little time to enjoy marriage the way it "used to be."

So what do we do when life is hard and our relationship stings more than soothes? Unfortunately, many spouses try to dull their pain rather than deal with it. In fact, most addictions are some form of painkilling. Misusing alcohol, prescription drugs, illicit drugs and the like can all help dull pain. Affairs (see several recent posts) and sexual addictions can illegitimately serve to dull the hurts that come from a life that isn't working well.

The problem is that addictions like those above and many others are destructive not helpful. But when we're desperate we'll often risk everything, including our marriage and family, to get our "fix" and not hurt - at least for awhile.

Thankfully, there are better ways to deal with the pain that stems from a relationship that is less than we'd hoped. Let me suggest several. First, get some help. Sadly, many people think that counseling is only for messed up people. But if we have a physical problem most don't feel the same way and say, "I'm not going to the doctor. Physicians are only for messed up people." In the same way seek out someone to help you and/or your spouse to think through what might be causing the stress and angst in your relationship.

Second, learn to communicate better and then practice. I work with couples every week who have never learned to communicate in healthy ways. If you get counseling your pastor, counselor or therapist can help you with this. There are excellent books that can provide you with helpful tools as well. But by all means, don't keep drowning in a sea of hurt because you've never learned to use the life raft of intimate dialogue with your spouse.

Third, take your insecurities to God. He cares about you. He loves you. He wants you to make it. There's a little phrase in Psalms that I love in chapter 56, verse 9 that says, "By this I know that God is for me!" If you're one of His children, he is for you. What good dad wouldn't be for his kids? Are you hurting? There is help if you'll just get it from the right place!

Yes, life will always be painful at least some of the time. This isn't Heaven and never will be. But thankfully God has provided ways to deal with our hurts that honor both Him, those we love and even ourselves if we'll just follow his lead and seek His wisdom.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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