In marriage, how do you find the balance between needing to share your real feelings of hurt, and showing love by overlooking a transgression?

    Recently, I was reading some older questions on TMB, and a few times I came across people saying something fairly similar. They were saying that, in a marriage, if one spouse is feeling hurt (by something that the other spouse has done), then they should find a way to discuss this with their spouse. 

    I think the general idea was that keeping the hurt to yourself is not healthy in the long run, and it most likely will manifest itself in some other way that will be harmful to the marriage relationship. It was also suggested that each spouse should be able to communicate things like this, because that is part of what the marriage relationship is about – sharing ourselves with each other (ie. sharing what we are feeling, what we are going through).

    I am considering how this may apply to a spouse’s hurts that are fresh and raw (current hurts), as well as older hurts from the past (perhaps from years ago, but they were never addressed at the time).

    I wonder where the balance lies between needing to share your real feelings of hurt, and showing love by overlooking a transgression.

    Some (probably obvious) scriptures that came to my mind were:

    “A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, And it is his glory to overlook a transgression.” (Proverbs 19:11)

    “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)

    I don’t know where the balance is. Is there a scripture that instructs us to tell our spouse that they have hurt us? (If there is, please say so!)

    I also know that in most cases, spouses have no intention of hurting one another. They are generally good-willed, and are not looking for opportunity to hurt their spouse. Nevertheless, both husbands and wives manage to do things that leave their spouse feeling hurt. It is probably in this context that I am most interested. That is, when you suspect that your spouse had no intention of hurting you, but you are indeed hurt, should you then bring this up to discuss it with your spouse?

    Bringing up the hurt has some obvious potential consequences:

    – spouse gets hurt/angry that you have raised the issue

    – spouse disagrees, and thinks you are being dramatic/unfair

    – it starts an even bigger conflict

    – If one spouse tends to be the one who initiates discussions about their hurts, the other spouse could feel like they are always doing something wrong (or that the other spouse can never be pleased).

    On the other hand, NOT bringing up the hurt also has some potential consequences:

    – avoiding conflict

    – giving time for the hurt to soften, and perhaps the hurt spouse may realise that it wasn’t something major after all (and then they may be relieved that they didn’t pursue a discussion about it)

    – avoiding hurting your spouse (hurting them by telling them that they hurt you)

    So what do the people of TMB think? How do you work out the balance? If there is something that your spouse does that leaves you feeling really hurt, how do you determine whether to reveal that to your spouse and try to discuss it? If old wounds get reopened, how do you know whether bringing it up is beneficial to your marriage?

    I would be very interested to hear how people think about this, and how they approach these situations in their own marriage. Thank you.

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    13 Answer(s)

      General guidelines for me is if it’s a one time occurrence then no biggie forgive and move on. If it becomes a pattern then you have to pray and forgive but confront with how this offense affects your relationship. with your spouse. You have to be mindful that there are likely some things you yourself are ignorant of and need to repent of as well.

      Be prepared to ask for and to give forgiveness.

      “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
      ‭‭James‬ ‭1:19-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

      Double bed Answered on June 23, 2020.
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        It took many years of marriage before we reached a place of being able to share our hurts in a constructive way. You really need deep love and solid trust to be able to be that vulnerable to share true hurts while also accepting that your spouse may or may not be willing to change. There is an intimacy to being able to share like that, knowing that it may hurt you worse to share, but that the possibility is there for a better life together.

        Blanket on a secluded beach! Answered on June 22, 2020.
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          My quick answer, if it’s something I can easily get over, I don’t feel a need to say anything. But if it’s something that needs resolution to bring about restoration, because otherwise there’s a noticable distance, it’s time to say something.

          Under the stars Answered on June 22, 2020.
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            Sometimes it Has to be “ *** the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” But not normally. However, there is often no easy way to breach an uneasy subject. The downside to avoiding it is bitterness that leads to resentment.

            On the floor Answered on June 22, 2020.
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              This is a great question, that I need to learn from. I agree with what SeekingChange said. I need to learn to just overlook the ones that don’t matter and only bring up the ones that need resolution to bring restoration then those are the main things to focus on.

              Twin bed Answered on June 23, 2020.
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                I think part of the answer lies in what was the issue/event and can the offended person believe the best about the spouse who hurt them and just extend grace, forgiving the issue because they know & understand their spouse didn’t intend it to be hurtful. This is NOT about allowing abuse and being taken advantage of, this is purely about something that I might recognize as my hurt/issue, OR extend grace to her personality and because the action is just who she is/does, and knowing the heart of my spouse, believing her love for me & us, and loving her enough to let it go.

                Under the stars Answered on June 23, 2020.

                Yes, I agree. In the case where you do believe the best about your spouse, meaning you know they didn’t intend to hurt you, the hurt can still be very real and very deep. How can you stop the hurt?

                Particularly when the action is one that may get repeated in the future, and it still hurts. It’s probably true that the spouse has no idea that their actions lead to you hurting. Bringing it to their attention may lead them to be defensive and say that you shouldn’t be hurt because they didn’t intend for you to hurt. So you are still left hurting, and your spouse is probably not very happy that you raised the issue.

                I wonder if there is a point where your spouse should be able to just hear what’s in your heart, irrespective of whether they agree about who caused what feeling. Just be able to listen to their spouse share what their feelings are, and be with them in that moment. Not to say they agree, but to acknowledge where the other person is at, and acknowledge what they’re going through.

                on June 23, 2020.

                I think when they don’t know and it really hurt AND CERTAINLY if it’s gonna be a repeated issue, the offended person probably needs to start a conversation, something like, “Can we talk about something? I love you and know you didn’t mean to hurt me. When this happened, it really hurt because (fill in the blank). I would appreciate it if. (fill in the blank)” OR finish with, “Can we please come up with a creative co-solution so that we can avoid the situation?” ”

                Doing this should foster intimacy and allow for conversation, awareness, and healing. I believe that there can be a point when spouses can just listen and hear the heart. I’ll add that it takes an emotionally healthy and mature spouse/person. However, when there are years of built up hurt, anger, emotions, dysfunction, etc. trained/professional outside help is usually needed to navigate those waters, especially when years of habits, tension and/or misbehavior is involved. This is especially true around marriage bed issues.

                on June 24, 2020.
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                  We’re newbies at this marriage thing, but being the non-confrontational person that I am, I lean toward trying to get over it with prayer unless it’s a pattern that I should address so my husband will be aware of the way it affects me. However, I’m terrible at hiding my emotions and he 100% of the time would rather hear exactly what I’m feeling even if I would categorize it as irrational. He kindly pushes me to be fully honest whenever he can tell that my reaction to something is a little off. I think it probably is affected by personality types as well. I am very thankful that he’s honest with me and wants me to return the honesty, but it definitely is more difficult for me to take coming from him. He takes my “feedback” seriously and is immediately out to fix anything he can, and I’ll eventually get there when he brings up something that hurts him but I typically deal with a lot of feelings of failure first.

                  Twin bed Answered on June 23, 2020.
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                    I used to never tell DH that I was hurt by something he did. Either I would shove it down and try to forget, or he would eventually try and dig it out of me. I felt I shouldn’t say anything, ever, because we are supposed to be forgiving, right?

                    Now I have learned to either completely let it go and believe the best of my DH, or calmly tell him then or not too much later, that what he did, bothered me. It has done so much for our relationship. I try to let most things go, as he seems to rarely, if ever, tell me that something I did, upset him. I don’t want to be the one trying to make him perfect. But, I believe there is a time and place, where we do need to share it with our spouse. In our marriage, most of the time DH has had no clue that what he said, hurt me. And very occasionally, the Holy Spirit told him and DH came back and apologized in his own way. And than I’ve been glad that I just shut up!

                    Under the stars Answered on June 23, 2020.
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                      Matthew 18, verse 15 specifically, is a support to sharing things…“If your brother or sister [whom could be your spouse] sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. ”

                      If a husband is unloving, he is in sin. If a wife is unloving she is in sin.

                      Under the stars Answered on June 23, 2020.

                      Yes, true. What about when you are unsure about whether it is actually sin? Being hurt doesn’t always mean that your spouse sinned against you, so this can lead to being unsure of whether you should go to them. Often it’s just something they have done that has hurt you, but was quite obviously not intended to do that, and not obviously a sin.

                      on June 23, 2020.
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                        Luke 6:31. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
                        A lot of conflict comes down to putting yourself in the others’ shoes. If I were doing something that was hurting my wife I would want to know about it. But gently. Not nagging. I may not even use the word “hurt”. Maybe “prefer”, unless it was a bigger deal and “hurt” is the only word that applies.
                        Unfortunately that means letting the distant past be the past. If you had done something horrible 20 years ago, had confessed, and worked through it, would you want your spouse to bring it up every time they think about it, sending you into spiral of shame and regret all over again?
                        I know I wouldn’t. So I keep that pain away from my wife. I’ve documented my story here, and the thoughts pierce my heart like a dagger nearly every day, but my wife can’t do anything about it now. It’s mine to carry alone, even if it kills me.
                        I guess I could work through it with a therapist, but my wife is not my therapist. She’s the recipient of my forgiveness, as we are recipients of Christ’s.

                        Fell out of ... Answered on June 23, 2020.

                        Yes, I agree that if something happened in the past, and has been confessed and worked through it, then continuing to bring that up is not helpful.

                        When I refer to past hurts, I mean things that happened that have not been addressed or discussed – either when they happened, nor any time after.

                        on June 23, 2020.
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