Powerful words, Part 1

What would you think if I told you that you hold the power of life and death in the words that you speak? Would it come as a surprise to you? Think back to when you were growing up. Perhaps a parent or teacher saw a quality in you that they praised, such as: “You are a kind-hearted friend.” Hearing their praise spoke truth into your heart, encouraging you to be that much more kind and friendly. On the other hand, maybe you remember hurtful words: “You are so much bigger than your sister. All you want to eat is junk food.” These hurtful words have the ability to follow a person all the way into their adulthood, making food and weight a lifelong struggle.

Words don’t just hold power over us when we are kids; they affect us as adults as well. I did not understand how much power they held until I began to walk through healing after betrayal. As Wayne and I began to heal and grow, both individually and together, I learned how my words had power to either breathe life into our relationship or to drain it of what little life it had left.

Draining it of life could look one of two ways. My first instinct was to tell Wayne that I was fine when my heart was feeling anything but fine. This was like introducing deadly poison into our relationship, because by ignoring the truth of what I was feeling I was denying myself the opportunity to receive comfort, and denying Wayne the opportunity to share in my pain. In an effort to correct my previous mistakes of ignoring my feelings, I had swung the other way for a while, and only chose to tell Wayne about the ways that he hurt me. Early on in our recovery period, this was probably very appropriate as I was deeply wounded, so negative feelings were truly all I felt. But, as I began to heal it was important that I learn to swing back into a more balanced position where I was able to share all of my feelings with him, both positive and negative.

I discovered that my words are tools that should be used to share my heart with Wayne, but should never be used as weapons against him. For example, early on in recovery watching him send and receive texts was a trigger for me. If I fell back into old habits and said nothing when he was texting someone, I left myself vulnerable to the quiet suggestion that he was living a secret life again, and that if he wasn’t now, eventually he would betray me. But damage would also have been done if I went to the other extreme and said something like “You can never be trusted! I’ve given you a chance, and here you are texting up a storm. All you ever do is hurt me!” In this instance, I told him that I was hurt, but not until after I lambasted him with accusations and negative predictions. Dodging those poisonous arrows would make it difficult for him to hear my heart.

When I learned to simply tell him, “Wayne, watching you send and receive texts is a trigger for me right now. It reminds me of the secret ways you did that in the past. I get that you are not betraying me with your texts right now, but watching you do it hurts me all over again.” This told him what I was feeling and why, without being accusing. Because he wasn’t feeling attacked, he was able to hear my heart on a deeper level. This gave him an opportunity to set up a plan for guarding me from future pain by being very vocal every time he sent or received a text. He would literally say out loud who he was texting and what their word for word conversation was. The words that we spoke to each other in this way empowered us to find hope for a new life together.

So I started out by saying that you hold the power of life and death in the words that you speak. I think that I am still learning how true this is, and how important it is to speak life into my marriage. Today, I shared the importance of honest sharing without further wounding. In part two, I will share how we can use our words to breathe life back into our broken relationships. Until then, I would love to hear from you. Do you naturally want to keep your pain hidden inside, or do you find yourself verbally spreading it to those around you? What are some ways that you have learned to show your hurt to your spouse without hurting them in the process? I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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I agree with you on how you

I agree with you on how you express your pain to your spouse. Being kind verses accuses does work wonders. However, my problem is when does the triggers stop? I've lived this betrayal nightmare for 3 years. My spouse has been wonderful but has lost his patience on seeing me relapse. I want to discuss with him what is giving me anxiety and I'm told it's the past and let it go. Is he right? I still shutter when he's on the phone for work and I hear a womans voice on the other end. When does the trust come back? When does the triggers not make you upset? When do you finally say it's going to be ok and let go? I want to jump in 100% but my wall is up trying to protect me from more pain.

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