In Sickness and in Health

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Residing in ongoing tension is not God’s desire for us. He wants us to live in peace.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27, ESV)

Life is filled with challenges. We need to know someone has our back, and we have a safe place to turn when we feel rejected or misunderstood. We need a place where we can be transparent, think out loud and vent our innermost thoughts and feelings.

But what if the place you counted on to feel safe and protected — your marriage — is the place you feel most betrayed and alone? What if you actually feel unsafe, unhealthy and unwell in your marriage?

These are hard truths. We keep them secret, embarrassed to admit we feel hurt at home. It seems easier to put on a cheerful face and say all is fine.

I recently counseled a woman who was unhappy in her long-term marriage. With added stress at work, she knew something had to change.

She got up the courage to leave her job, accepted a friend’s offer to house-sit and spent two months considering her life, hoping her husband would do the same. It was the scariest thing she’d ever done.

Eventually her husband joined her in counseling, and she started to feel alive again. She never knew how much emotional tension she carried in her body until she felt emotional relaxation.

Research is uncovering painful truths about what happens in marriages filled with anger, distrust and “crazymaking.” When one spouse’s thoughts and actions are consistently criticized, when one’s needs and feelings consistently trump another’s needs and feelings, marriages become unsafe. When efforts to offer feedback are met with defensiveness and blame-shifting, when history is rewritten to meet a spouse’s needs, your body keeps score.

And trouble comes.

Instead of two being better than one, as Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 suggests, we now see people retreating into themselves. Instead of feeling vibrant and alive, filled with joy and excitement about what the Lord is doing in their lives, they strain to cope. They adapt and accommodate to the ongoing stress, while feeling more and more unhealthy. We see stress responses and subsequent anxiety leading to debilitating illnesses — anxiety, autoimmune disorders, sleep disturbance, depression, chronic aches and pains and loss of focus.

Doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists and other healing professionals are quick to inform us about the impact of chronic stress. Living in a constant state of discontent, or worse, endless unhappiness, often leads to an unlimited number of both physical and emotional maladies. Our bodies keep a running tally of our feelings.

Residing in ongoing tension is not God’s desire for us. He wants us to live in peace, which we see in today’s key verse: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).

God’s peace comes not from worldly relationships or circumstances, but from our relationship with God.

We can have an abundant, full life regardless of how our relationships are doing. How is an abundant life possible? The psalmist says, “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11b, ESV).

Real, ultimate healing comes in our companionship and friendship with God as He helps us face the truth of a situation.

Once we face the truth of our situation with God’s strength, sometimes we may have to make difficult decisions and boldly set boundaries.

Maybe that includes honestly assessing our physical and emotional health and taking action. It might mean talking candidly to a trusted friend about what’s really happening in our marriages. It may require we reveal hard truths.

While we seek every possible avenue for healing from the stress of a troubled marriage or from another challenging relationship, we can embrace our relationship with God. We never lose sight of the fact that in addition to being physical and emotional beings, we are also spiritual. God is with us and gives us opportunities to change, grow and heal.

Heavenly Father, help me see and tell the truth about my life. Let me remember You have better in store for me, and grant me courage in seeking change. Give me wisdom to make necessary changes for a happier and healthier future. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (NIV)

Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
If your emotional pain feels physical and your physical pain feels emotional, your marriage may be making you sick — literally. Join Dr. David Hawkins and his sons, an internist and a surgeon, as they explore the effects relational stress and trauma have on our bodies. In Sickness and in Health: The Physical Consequences of Emotional Stress in Marriage will help you discover that you don’t have to stay stuck.

CONNECT:
Visit the Marriage Recovery Center’s blog for insight and encouragement on how to have a stronger marriage.

Discover hope and healing when you take control of your life, and enter to WIN a copy of In Sickness and in Health by Dr. David Hawkins. To celebrate this brand-new book, Harvest House is giving away 5 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here. {We'll randomly select 5 winners and notify each one in the comments by Monday, February 25, 2019.}

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
If you were to honestly describe how you feel when sharing with your spouse, what might you say? How would you describe what happens when you offer critical feedback to your mate?

What truth do you need to acknowledge in your marriage in order to effect positive change?

© 2019 by Dr. David Hawkins. All rights reserved.

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