It should have been the happiest day of her life, she had just met a man who she really cared for and she felt cared for her. He had taken on the responsibility of not only becoming a husband but also a step-father. She just couldn’t understand why she was not feeling what her friends had described, her happiness didn’t seem to last very long for, the feeling of being on top of the world and having stars in her eyes because she had just said those two magical words “I Do”
For some reason there seemed to be more sad times than happy, how could that be, she was a newlywed, he seemed kind and loving, but that wasn’t enough. All she could think about was the fear that she was living in because of the pain, abuse, and betrayal she had experienced in past relationships. This time was different, she was not going to let another man mistreat or hurt her, in her mind she would strike first before allowing him to inflict new pain into her already hurting heart. She knew that she was in love, but it just seemed to good to be true, when he was talking to his friends on the phone or Facebook, was it really his friends or was it past girlfriends, potential girlfriends, or someone he was fooling around with? She fought with the voices in her own head that constantly told her that all men are dogs, he will hurt you or leave you just like your ex and just like your good for nothing father. The sound of his cell phone sent her into a fury of anger and jealously, “I know he is up to something” but with who, and why, I thought he loved me.
Because of the paranoia she was experiencing she began to withdraw, accuse her husband of infidelity, engaged in destructive conflict, and spent may hours waddling in anger and pain.
Why was she so angry? This is a common scenario, that consist of insecurity, past abuse, mental health issues, and broken family of origin ties. It is difficult to trust and forgive those who have caused pain, but at some point every individual has to decide to choose life or choose death. Meaning that if the individual chooses to wallow in the pain of the past then they are not choosing growth, happiness, and healing. Choosing life means working through past abuse and pain, whether it be with a spiritual advisor or with a mental health professional. The goal is to live life to the fullest, to embrace its challenges and all the love that is offered. Living in the past breeds more pain, insecurity, and negativity. The term baggage is often used to described the above scenario which is the inability to move past prior hurt, abuse, and betrayal. The reality is that living in the past robs not only the victim of the abuse, but also their spouse and children of the incredible person that God has created, past baggage weighs heavy on individual shoulders.
In marriage especially, past baggage may cause destruction because the idea of marriage is built upon trust. Carrying baggage from the past may make it difficult to engage in a relationship based on trust. In the scenario above, the wife is choosing a destructive path that may result in divorce, separation, or a life of pain. How can you help someone who is living with baggage from the past?
Tips for loving someone with past baggage:
1. God has to be first in the relationship, prayer is often useful in learning how to remain in peace during life’s trials. Dealing with someone in pain takes patience and love.
2. Abandonment cannot be an option, set boundaries with your mate regarding conflict.
3. There should be established rules for fighting (not in front of children, time limited, no name calling) in other words learn how to fight constructively.
4. Consult a professional counselor to process problems or your local pastor. Be careful that you don’t break the covenant by consulting with non professionals. If your mate is unwilling to participate in couples counseling, seeking individual therapy for yourself may be helpful as well. A good therapist can assist an individual clients from a couples/family perspective.
Tips for those carrying past relationship baggage:
1. Awareness that your mate’s patience may eventually run out and your lack of emotional control could lead to isolation or divorce.
2. Consult a Professional Counselor to work out problems in individual therapy.
3. Choose words carefully, don’t accuse, don’t intentionally start arguments.
4. Take responsibility for your own behaviors and emotions, acknowledge that your behaviors are unhealthy and choose LIFE by seeking help from qualified professionals.
5. Develop a relationship with GOD, not religion just a relationship, meditate on healing scriptures. Your bible should become your best friend. If you have children, remember that they are watching your behavior; this should be your motivation for change.
What baggage are you carrying from the past to your present relationships? Share your thoughts!