My husband and I have been married almost ten years this upcoming March. It’s been a fruitful, whirlwind of a decade. We’ve been each other’s best friends since college and supported one another through some of our most difficult moments.
Most recently, we had to learn how to walk through trauma counseling. About two years ago my world was flipped upside down when I chose to confront the painful memory of a sexual assault in my past. I talk openly about the affects it had on me as an individual, but the affects it had on my marriage have been just as life altering.
Healing from such a deep wound required me to uncover a lot of callouses. Although it was healing, it was tough work. God chiseled away the hard-outer shell I diligently built, revealing a softer, more vulnerable heart than I’d ever known existed.
Walking through a transformation of this magnitude had a direct affect on the closest relationships around me, most especially, my marriage. The brokenness of my past robbed me of my ability to be vulnerable, trusting, or emotionally intimate with my husband. I confused a sense of humor and people-pleasing with vulnerability. I replaced physical intimacy for emotional. Instead of walking into forgiveness I chose to avoid conflict and hide behind a façade, pretending I was a tower of strength, when I was truly wounded.
Learning how to love after walking through trauma was difficult, but it’s been the best thing I’ve ever done for my marriage. It was the equivalent of removing a blindfold that was costing us our joy, peace, and truly being known.
Trauma caused me to callous my heart towards the person I loved the most in this world and I didn’t even realize it. God began to heal my marriage by restoring my trust in Him, first. Learning that I wasn’t a sum total of my past and that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139) shattered the lie that I wasn’t worthy of being loved.
Being open and vulnerable in my communication paved the way for deep, meaningful conversation.
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” James 5:16, ESV.
Praying with my husband was one of the very first things that lead us to being more open and vulnerable with one another. It opened a door to seeing each other’s hearts that we’d never known existed. God gently lead us in to healing conversations that helped shape and mold the way we spoke and loved one another. He simultaneously softened both my husband and I’s hearts towards one another as He realigned our own hearts towards Him.
Trauma gave me a warped view of vulnerability. I viewed it as a gate that would invite more pain if ever unlocked. The truth is, vulnerability paves the way for restoring intimacy in our marriage, giving us the desires of our hearts and restoring them to Jesus.
“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” 1 Thess. 5:23, ESV.
Without being vulnerable, I would never learn how to trust in a relationship again, both with my husband or with Jesus. Trusting someone with my heart after experiencing trauma seemed reckless and unnecessary. It wasn’t until I began trusting Jesus with the most tattered, broken pieces of my heart that He would begin to transform my view of trusting in my marriage. It was in my own heart transformation that birthed a transformation in my husband and me.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” 1 John 1:9, NIV.
I humbled myself and asked God to forgive me for trying to heal my broken heart without Him. Taking the healing out of the Healer’s hands bore pain and division in my marriage. Once I repented, He did what only He could do by restoring and repairing the wound that once spread out into the most precious portions of my life.
Asking my husband to forgive me for causing any wounds, even if unintentionally, caused a flood of tears to come pouring out. I had no idea how unaware I was. My guarded heart caused me to be brittle and unempathetic to the man I desired to be closest to in my life. His tears were the cleansing agent we needed to restore the brokenness between us. The further we walked down the road of forgiveness, the more emotionally intimate we became.
God began to restore our marriage, establishing our hearts toward Jesus first, organically drawing us closer together. Marriage is stronger and healthier the more we pursue Him.
Learning how to love Jesus has simultaneously began to heal our marriage through the deep wounds of trauma. May we constantly pursue the redemptive grace and hope of Jesus by walking in alignment with His word. May our marriages constantly be restored by our willingness to submit to Him. And may we cling to His redeeming love more than anything else, believing that He is the only healer that repairs the irreparable.