As we continue looking at the top 10 reasons couples argue and fight, we find ourselves looking at how past hurts can impact current relationships. Can you think back to past times and issues that came up between you and your spouse? Do many of these past events still come up today in some way, shape, or form? My guess is yes. Typically, things will be said and actions done that all lead to hurts. Then as we grow older and move forward, these hurts will impact our daily life more than what we may be aware of.
Identifying Your Past Hurts
I want you to take a moment where you think about your past hurts. Did your spouse say something or do something that still sticks with you? Perhaps they did not do something that they were supposed to, or they forgot your birthday or anniversary.
Current life events can trigger you to remember that event and how you felt about it. These feelings then come up and become entwined in our daily relationship. Often, these feelings that you may have are not very clear to your spouse. When these feelings come out, the other spouse can be left feeling confused, disoriented, and not sure what and where those feelings came from. You yourself may not even be quite sure how the feelings came back up, you just know that they are there.
One important step in changing this process is first being aware of what your past hurts are. Take time for yourself and journal about them. Write down all of the past hurts that come up and how they affected you then and now. Once you call awareness to them, it becomes more clear how they come up on a regular basis and impact your relationship.
Understanding Their Impact
Fast forward to now and your most recent argument that had things come up from the past (i.e. You said x,y, or z 10 years ago, and I felt like you did not care about me). Since you have written those past hurts down in your journal, you can walk through the current situation for yourself, and find out what past hurt is coming up in the present.
After this happens, you can sit down and tell your partner how the current fight is being affected by the past hurt. This way, they are able to be let and understand what is really affecting you.
Past Hurts Are Not Always From Your Current Partner
One common area of past hurts is previous relationships. These events can rear their ugly heads when we least expect it and it can have a huge impact on how we interact with our significant others.
This is a common problem that tends to happen a lot in relationships where one partner may have been in an abusive or unhealthy relationship before. The hurt and pain that comes from past relationships can cause many trust issues, difficulties in opening up, and fear. This can be a difficult hurdle to overcome for someone in a relationship.
Residual effects from these past hurts can come up if your spouse does or says something that reminds you of something that happened before. This can trigger all kinds of feelings in you which tend to come out at the person you are in the relationship with. Working on being aware of these triggers can help to prevent them from getting in between you and your partner.
How to Overcome the Past
No matter where the hurt came from, an important tool in getting away from them is to get into your own therapy. This can really help you to learn more about your own thoughts and how to handle them. Read more about how individual therapy can actually be helpful to couples in the long run here.
Overcoming past hurts requires taking down your walls and defenses. They served a purpose at some point in your life, but not any longer. It can be terrifying to risk yourself in this way, but I can assure you that it will get easier and you and your relationship will be stronger as a result of it.
Don’t expect that the whole wall will come tumbling down, but make an effort to take it down brick by brick and day by day. This can be achieved by allowing yourself to take a small risk each day to be vulnerable towards your partner. By doing this, they will hear you and see you as you are and not hiding behind the walls you have set up.
Remind yourself the current partner you are with is not the person who hurt you before. Chances are that person is long gone and you are able to let them go, as the person directly in front of you I probably better than them anyway. A good question to ask is: does my partner deserve to hurt and suffer due to someone from my past? Chances are the answer is no.
Asking the above question can lead you to the final step: letting go. Letting go of past hurts can be an incredibly difficult thing to do. Give yourself permission to not allow the past to come up into your present relationship. Letting go of the past can be very liberating.
To help let go, try this: Write each hurt down on a small slip of paper and fold it and put it into a mason jar. Once the jar is full, take it outside and burn one memory at a time. This way you are letting go of the past stuff and allowing yourself to move forward. Try it – it will probably help!
Something else to let go of are the little hurts that have come from your current partner. These little hurts and resentments can build up to a level that is so much more damaging than one big hurt or fight. By letting go of the little hurts, you will learn what is really important in your relationship and what is OK to let go of.
Until next time – live truly, love fully!