If you think divorce is the only option...read on!
Going through the Pain Barrier Nobody likes pain but its there for a purpose. I am a long time supporter of The Leprosy Mission and one of the things that I’ve discovered about leprosy is that its not normally the disease that results in a persons fingers or toes falling off, it’s the fact that the disease of leprosy stops a person being able to feel pain and so they will unconsciously burn themselves badly and not feel it. The nerve endings have been damaged and so they cannot feel pain at all and the results, more often than not, are the hideous deformities that we now associate with a leper. A leper would love to feel pain because they know that pain is given to us to warn our bodies that something is wrong that needs put right, if possible. Pain is not always a bad thing. I run marathons.
Do you think I feel pain when I run a marathon? You bet I do! A marathon is one of the supreme tests of endurance that average people can undertake. During the run your body uses up all its stores of carbohydrates and other necessary body fuels and then begins to feed off itself – it turns cannibal, if you like. This is painful. As well as that, it is not uncommon to pull a muscle, develop a blister, get a stitch, hurt your joints or any other number of painful ailments. Your body is telling you to stop, this is damaging to it! In this context, pain is your body’s natural way to tell you that you are overdoing it – and of course you are.
However, all of us can ‘overdo it’ for a lot longer than we think is possible initially. We can learn to acknowledge the pain and, whilst taking steps to minimise it, we can still run on and on. Mind over matter if you like. One of the great acts of heroism I ever witnessed was during an Olympic marathon when the Tanzanian representative fell during the race badly injuring himself. He got up and struggled on in obvious pain whilst all the other runners disappeared up the road in front of him. It was demoralising for him but he refused to give up. He struggled on and entered the stadium with only a few people still left in the stands to cheer him home. He finished the race with blood pouring from his leg wound just as they were taking down the finishing line and a television reporter asked why he hadn’t just given up after falling so badly. His response was brilliant. He replied, “My country did not send me here to start a race.
They sent me to finish a race!” Too many of us start the race but are not so committed to finishing. I am firmly convinced that if a couple acknowledge to each other that there will be times of pain then they will be better able to cope with it for a period when it happens. In the western world, we have been brought up with this strange belief that we should never suffer and so, when we inevitably do hit times of suffering, we have not prepared ourselves to handle it properly. I have a friend who lectures on philosophy in universities in many third world countries. He says that one question he is never asked in third world countries is, “Why does God allow suffering?” The reason for this is that suffering is just such a normal part of their lives that they cannot imagine that anyone doesn’t suffer. In fact it’s the suffering that makes them into the people they are. Can you accept that suffering makes you a better person? Here are five things we can do when we feel pain in our relationship:- 1. We need to acknowledge that there is pain and try to isolate what is causing it. As we have said already in regard to the lepers, pain has a purpose. It tells us that something is not right.
When we feel pain in our relationship we need to stop and analyse why we are feeling that particular pain. When I was an accountant and had a bit more money at my disposal, one of the things I would do when I felt some pain in my marriage was to throw a bit of money at it. We’d take a holiday, go for a nice meal, buy some new clothes, get our hair done up (well at least my wife would do this). Now, if you’ve got the resources, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with any of these things but we need to be aware that by distracting our minds for a little while from the cause of the pain it doesn’t make the pain go away long term. It only puts a plaster over a wound that needs treatment. However, all we were doing by throwing money at our problems was delaying the inevitable and sooner or later we would have a big argument. It’s a bit like developing a toothache. Sure, you can dull the pain by putting some painkilling drug on your gum but if the cause of the pain is not dealt with, we know that it will flare up again, and next time even more painfully. Indeed if we kept on ignoring the pain then it might result in a tooth being removed. What started out as a simple toothache resulted in surgery.
Not good. In marriage there are a number of ways of figuring out what is causing the pain. Most of them common sense. You could try just talking to each other. Now there’s a novel suggestion! You could try doing the simple exercises in chapter 2 of this book and then discussing the results. You could talk to a professional counsellor who is trained to get to the bottom of painful issues. Whatever you decide to do it is crucial that you do something and do not ignore your pain. Once again the keyword is action.
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