By Dr. David B. Hawkins, Crosswalk.com
Editor's Note: Do you need relationship advice from Dr. David Hawkins, best-selling author of When Pleasing Others is Hurting You and Dealing with the CrazyMakers in Your Life? Send your questions to [email protected] to be answered in his new advice column.
We have all been wounded in relationships at one time or another. Facing those wounds and healing from them is a critical step toward moving forward in our lives. Whether our primary wounds stem from childhood, friendships or marriage, how we heal from those wounds is very important and can greatly influence our lives going forward.
One woman shared the following story:
Dear Dr. David,
I am struggling with an issue. I am 45 years old and was married for 18 years. My husband had a devastating affair and ended our marriage. It is not what I wanted and I pleaded with him to reconcile and seek counsel.
A year later I met a man who was married for 21 years and had a similar circumstance happen with his wife. He wanted reconciliation and she did not.
He lives 6 hours away from me so we do not get to see one another often. We talk every night and have done our devotions together many times. He is a wonderful leader. We have discussed marriage and I believe we are headed in that direction, but both of us are terrified to rush into that right now. We both are pretty wounded from how our marriages ended.
But we are in a committed relationship and it has turned physical. We try to see one another every 6 weeks or so since for now there is not a way for either of us to move to the other's city. I know the Scriptures warn us to avoid sexual sin. I know there are consequences for sin. But I also know I miss the companionship and physical intimacy aspect of being married.
We both go through periods of feeling convicted about this. We both have accountability groups that we have shared this with. We could easily go get a marriage license and put a stamp of approval on this, but neither of us are ready to take that step.
So... what do we do? Do we break up and walk away from something that we both feel is headed toward marriage? Do we make a commitment not to have sex any longer until we are ready to get married? I’m just confused about how to proceed. Thanks for listening.
KP’s story is all of our story, to one extent of another. Consider these elements of her story and how it might apply to us.
First, KP is struggling to heal from her past and move forward. KP has, like many of us, been wounded in love. She has struggled from rejection and, not surprisingly, finds herself attracted to someone who can fully relate. This is often the case—we are attracted to people who can sympathize with our story and can relate to the pain we have experienced.
Second, KP’s confusion is stopping her from living fully in the present. While KP is understandably still trying to process the wounds she has experienced, it seems that those wounds interfere with her living fully in the present. Both she and her boyfriend appear to have healing work to do before they can fully engage with each other.
Third, KP is unclear about her values and how she can live with integrity. Relationships bring out our issues and challenge our values. KP clearly must decide where she stands on sexual intimacy before marriage and whether she is ready and willing to commit to marriage. While she says she goes through “periods of being convicted” about their sexuality, this implies she goes through times when she does not. It’s time for her to gain clarity, through counseling, discussion with trusted friends, and private time reflecting on her values.
Fourth, KP is tempted and struggles to adhere to her values. We are all tempted to compromise our values—this is the very nature of temptation. It is not surprising that KP struggles to adhere to her values since she has not arrived at clarity about them. Once she gains clarity about her values, she must align her life to them. We all would do well to sit back, reflect and pray about what we value and why we value it. Solomon says this: “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” (Proverbs 11: 3).
Finally, KP is doing many things right and will likely figure it out. Sometimes we need to simply keep moving forward with our life. After reflecting, praying, and considering our circumstances, we need to do what we deem best. Often there is no perfect answer and there will be losses and gains to every decision. Still, we must decide and live with our choices.
In summary, KP is facing a life challenge but is doing so seeking wise counsel, with transparency and integrity. I am stopping short of telling her exactly what to do because that must come from her. I will suggest she remain open and transparent with her boyfriend and accountability group, pray for wisdom and discernment, and make a decision that reflects her values.
Do you struggle with healing from a broken relationship? We at The Marriage Recovery Center are prepared to walk with you through this growth process and help you with healing. Please feel free to contact me at MarriageRecoveryCenter.com or email us at [email protected].
Photo courtesy: ©GettyImages/Prostock-Studio
Dr. David Hawkins, MBA, MSW, MA, PhD, is a clinical psychologist who has helped bring healing to thousands of marriages and individuals since he began his work in 1976. Dr. Hawkins is passionate about working with couples in crisis and offering them ways of healing their wounds and finding their way back to being passionately in love with each other.
Over the past ten years, Dr. Hawkins has become a leader in the field of treatment for narcissism and emotional abuse within relationships. He has developed several programs for treatment of men dealing with these issues and the women who love them. Dr. Hawkins is also a speaker & trainer for the American Association of Christian Counselors and writes for Crosswalk.com, CBN.org, and iBelieve.com. He is a weekly guest on Moody Radio and Faith Radio and is a best-selling author of over thirty books.