When I Moved In, I Brought My Baggage
Jim and Angie sat across from us, their meals barely touched. They recounted an issue that they couldn’t get past in their marriage, and it was huge. They were so concerned that they brought it to Brent and I, their mentors, to help them sort it out. About that time Brent asked, “Is this something that you struggled with in your home life growing up?” Jim’s face froze, and I could almost see the light bulb brighten above his head. He then recalled a story that had paralleled their issue to the tee. The core issue was apparent to each one of us, and they came up with a simple way to deal with it.
In this life journey you’ve been on, chances are you have picked up things along the way that aren’t so good. Someone hurt you. You have adopted others’ destructive messages about yourself. Perhaps you made poor choices in your past, and you are reaping the consequences now. Whatever the reason for the hurts in your life, if not dealt with, they can adversely affect your marriage.
Dr. Gil Stieglitz, in his book entitled Marital Intelligence – A Foolproof Guide to Saving and Strengthening Marriage, says that past baggage is one of five problems we face in marriage. He writes,
“We carry with us wounds and destructive internalized programming as well as guilt and consequences from our past actions. There is no way to seal off the past and have its unresolved issues stay away. At times the impact of unresolved past baggage is so strong that it must be dealt with before progress in marriage can be attempted… It will continue as is unless those wounds are exposed, grieved, and processed… People need to process their pain from the past.”[i]
Many are the hurts of those we know. Some heal, some don’t. Some make peace with their pain; others live in the past. If baggage is affecting your relationship, there are healthy ways to deal with it. Check your support system (see next chapter). Some things can be talked out with a wise friend. I also recommend going to an older, wiser couple with your husband. When Brent and I went through a tough time with one of our teenagers, we sought out the help of a couple we respected who’d gone through similar things with their son.
Counseling is also a great tool. I once heard a police officer say that when she needed help with plumbing she called a plumber. When she needed help with electrical, she called an electrician. So it only made sense when she needed help with some emotional issues she was facing, she called a counselor.
[i] Gil Stieglitz, Marital Intelligence, (Winona Lake, IN: BMH books, 2010) page 184.