Beliefnet
How Great Thou Part

In my last column, I included a simple sentence that brought forth a critical turning point in my healing and emotional advancement. It was something my marriage counselor said to me early on.

“Colleen, your husband is who he is, only you are the one who made the choices to stay and accept certain things.”

I hear from a lot of people who are in pain. It’s difficult for them to heal and let go of that pain.

Why?

The end of a marriage is in many ways the ultimate betrayal because it involves the loss of trust.

It could be that a spouse had an affair.
It could be that a spouse refused to go to counseling.
It could be that a spouse turned out to not be who one thought them to be.
It could be that the spouse seemed apathetic about losing their partner.

All of these things have one thing in common. We marry someone because we believe that we can trust them. We can trust them to only have eyes for us, do anything not to lose us, continue to be the person we believe them to be, etc.

When a marriage fails and they prove themselves untrustworthy it is hard to accept. After all, we wouldn’t have married this person if we didn’t trust them. A lack of trust makes us feel bad. It also makes us attach that ‘bad feeling’ to ourselves.

The truth? It’s important not to attach that ‘bad feeling’ to ourselves, aka the trustworthy spouse.

It is about the untrustworthy spouse.

They are who they are and it’s important to believe their actions and the message they are sending and let go. We can do this when we accept that we made the choice to stay with them despite warning signs along the way (yes, there are almost always some type of signs when we look back).

So they are who they are and we made the choices that led us to them and to stay with them.

Once we accept this, it is oddly empowering. Our world no longer seems so out of control. The ‘bad feeling’ is no longer attached to us. We can forgive them because we are now accepting responsibility for ourselves and the role we played in the relationship.

To reiterate more specifically:

Step one: Validation: Yes, this person is who they are and they have broken trust. It’s horrible, it’s painful, it makes our world feel out of control, it gives us an overall ‘bad feeling’ about ourselves and our current situation. The validation of fact is acceptance of the person and situation. They are who they are and it is what it is.

Step Two: Self-Responsibility: We made the choices and decisions that led us to this point in our lives. We chose this individual and we built a life with them and along the way, more than likely ignored warning signs – enabled bad behavior and stayed, etc. The right counseling shows both individuals what it is about their personality and actions that played a part in the end result even if they were the ‘trustworthy spouse.’ It exposes what it is that led us to choose an ‘untrustworthy’ individual or what led us to stay with that person.

Step Three: Forgiveness: The act of validation and acceptance combined with self-responsibility opens the door of forgiveness. Forgiveness appears as blame disappears.

Step Four: Empowerment: We made the choices. No one did this to us. We allowed someone into our life that did not treat us well (more than likely, long before the traumatic event that ended the relationship). We put up with behaviors that led to this outcome.

Therefore,

We can stop hating our spouse.

We can start forgiving our spouse.

We can stop feeling like victims.

We can stop feeling like our world is out of control.

We can take our power back.

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