Hurt people hurt people. It’s quite cliché, but it’s cliché because it is so often true. This is especially applicable in our marriages. One of the most difficult situations to overcome in young marriages and young families is the cycle of hurt that can create deep rifts in our marital relationships. I was struck by a statement the other day that said “when men feel disrespected they act unloving and when women feel unloved they act disrespectful.” This statement speaks to what study after study after study has confirmed about men and women emotionally. Simply put: men and women are very different emotionally. Men experience the love in a relationship through a feeling of respect while women feel respect in a relationship through a feeling of love. In a positive manner, this plays out differently in every household because we are all very different people with very different personalities, traits, and idiosyncrasies. We can reference books such as The 5 Love Languages for the different dynamics. However, the negative side of this dynamic often looks the same in many households. It doesn’t matter how it begins or even what that beginning looks like, but the cycle begins with a hurt that leaves a husband feeling disrespected or a wife feeling unloved. If they act in kind, the cycle begins. An action perceived as disrespectful leads to an unloving action that leads to an action that causes a feeling of disrespect that leads to words that appear unloving that leads to an action…
It’s a cycle that is not easily broken. In Colossians 3 Paul, immediately before addressing husbands and wives, says in verses 12-15:
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
It is no coincidence that Paul is addressing healthy, Christ-like interpersonal dynamics before he directly addresses the most interpersonal dynamic of all. Love, forgiveness, humility, and compassion are the only way to overcome the downward spiral that our relationships, especially our marriages, experience through hurt and reciprocity. Seek to guard your marriage with all that you are by defending it with love, forgiveness, humility, and compassion.
Kyle Shipp, Adult Minister