“I just need time to heal”
Our wounds make us selfish. This is understandable – when we are physically wounded, we become self-centred so we can heal. That is not only reasonable, it’s necessary, especially with major wounds. The problem with mental, emotional, and relational wounds is that many don’t heal properly if just left alone. It would be like not setting a broken arm or leg – when it did eventually heal “on its own” it would not be right, and would not work right. Once that happens, the only way to fix it is to re-break it and set it properly. Or, it could be like ignoring gangrene – which results in it spreading and killing more and more of the body.
Healing from serious physical wounds take more than just time – it also requires cleaning, disinfecting, setting, stitching, or some other action to be preformed. Many mental, emotional, and relational wounds are the same way – time alone will not result in a proper healing. Ignoring it, or favouring it because it hurts, might feel better, but it does not bring healing. Healing comes when the wound is acknowledged and appropriate steps are taken to do what is required for healing.
In a marriage, couples repeatedly hit their partner’s wounds, causing pain, anger, withdrawal, and so on. As I see it, it’s cruel to keep doing something that hits an old wound, HOWEVER I also see it as very wrong to refuse to deal with one’s wounds. I would not be angry at my bride if her leg was broken, and she would have a right to be upset with me if I expected her to do things that can’t be done on a broken leg. On the other hand, I would have a right to be upset if my bride refused to get her leg taken care of, and kept using it as an “excuse” to not do things that one can’t do on a broken leg. Her refusal to get her leg healed would hurt and limit her, and would limit what I could do with her. That means her choice to not heal would be harming our relationship.
When we marry, we make a commitment to be the best we can, to be healthy and functional. Refusing to get healing, of any kind, is a violation of this commitment. In my mind, it’s wrong, selfish and unloving.
If you are refusing to deal with past injuries, you are cheating your bride – STOP IT! Get serious about healing, and work diligently at it. Seek third party help as needed.
If your bride is refusing to deal with past injuries, don’t let her think that is an acceptable choice. Make it clear you think she needs to work on her injuries, just as you are working on yours. That said, you cannot dictate the speed or direction of her healing. If she is working on it, and if you do see changes for the good from time to time, praise her along the way, and realise that part your frustration with her wounds is probably a result of your own wounds. Work on your stuff while she works on her stuff.
Finally, realise that emotional, mental and relational healing take a good deal of energy. Just as healing from a physical injury happens fast when you rest, the healing of internal wounds goes better when one is not busy and stressed. If you don’t give yourself, or your bride, enough time and room, the healing will be slow at best and very possibly won’t happen at all. If you bride’s life is already too busy, expecting her to heal is unfair. If she has significant issues to deal with, she will need the time to do it. If it’s really important to you that she get healed, you will do whatever it takes to give her the time and space required for that healing. If you won’t do that for her, then her healing must not be very important to you – no matter what you may say.
Bottom line: Needing time to heal is valid, using that as an excuse when one is not working on healing is not valid, and not supporting a spouse who is working on healing is working against the healing.