In our book The Secrets of Loving Relationships, my husband and I write about emotional wounding. Emotional wounds can harm your relationship by diminishing your ability to connect with your partner. Emotional wounds can occur during adulthood, but many originate in childhood.
How do you know you have emotional wounds?
When you act in dysfunctional ways. You’re reactive, you’re irrational, you’re blaming, shaming, emotionally manipulating, or withdrawing. These behaviors cover up wounds. Wounds that even though you think you’ve got it all under control, you don’t really. And, by the way, I speak from experience. I thought I had my wounds from my childhood all nicely packaged and put away until my divorce happened–and that’s when everything became raw and exposed. Divorce became my opportunity to heal. Many marriages disintegrate due to unresolved emotional wounds that desperately need healing. If you want a great relationship, begin by working on yourself first.
Where did your emotional wounds come from?
In childhood, your brain is like a sponge. You soak up everything, especially from your parents. See if you recognize any of these from your childhood:
- Abandonment or loss.
- Questioning your worthiness.
- Negative sub-conscious programming and beliefs.
- Adrenalized conflict, drama, or stimulus.
- Criticism and hyper-criticism.
- Spousal stand-in or best friend of parent.
- Need for constant attention or approval.
Where there is emotional wounding, there are scars from attempts at healing or covering it up. You develop compensating behaviors to hide the pain. Some of these behaviors empower you; some do not. If you aren’t aware of your emotional wounds, you bring into your relationship unconscious behaviors which all but doom your relationship. Plus, your partner also has emotional wounding that may need healing or awareness that they exist.
What are your emotional wounds? How do they sabotage your relationship? Pay attention to what triggers you in your conversations or arguments with your partner. These provide clues to where you hurt.
Here’s a secret from our book Secrets of Loving Relationships:
Having an emotional hole is not the “kiss of death” for relationships. Each of us has our own issues. The “kiss of death” is denying the existence of these emotional holes that eventually destroys relationships.
If you think your or your partner’s emotional wounds are affecting the quality of your relationship, you might want to consider individual or relationship counseling. It is such a nice gift to yourself (and to your relationship) to explore your inner workings and to find out how they may be contributing to your relationship issues. I think part of how we become our best selves is through our closest relationships. We learn, we grow, we explore, and we learn to love more through our connection with our partners. But, we can’t have a loving connection with others if we don’t have a loving connection with ourselves.