When couples who are struggling in their marriage become vulnerable with each other, amazing growth in the marriage can happen. Consider what Dr. Cloud shares in his blog:
“If you’re having an issue with your spouse, be vulnerable with each other. Talk about when it is difficult for you to be open — which painful situations seem to close the doors of your hearts. A closed heart will look for comfort somewhere else, either in aloneness, an addiction, an affair, work, or hobbies. Keep your hearts open to each other.
Some of you are asking, “What if my spouse is not open to a conversation? What if my spouse won’t be vulnerable?” Good questions. The answer is for you to do two things. First, avoid a hard heart that refuses to be loving or open to working out issues. You can do that by being honest about your pain and allowing others to help you with it. You can also set boundaries to avoid further hurt or abuse.
Second, be clear about your expectations for your spouse. He or she must be willing to own his or her destructive behavior, express remorse for it, and acknowledge an understanding of how that behavior is affecting you. Your spouse must then commit to a process to do things differently. That is a basic confession and repentance. It keeps a relationship moving forward and involves a soft heart on both sides.
If your spouse does not get to that kind of softheartedness, you can still do the two things mentioned: set boundaries with an open heart and require a change in behavior before trusting again. That is a stance you can sustain, as it does not invite or allow future injury, but names the hurtful behavior for what it is while being open to reconciliation.
Hearts become hard because of hurt. We sometimes close down to one another because we have been wounded or because our spouse touches on an old wound that has not yet healed. That is normal. But we are called to deal with that and not allow it to turn to bitterness. If we keep our hearts soft, strong, and protected, they will serve our marriages well.”
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Note: Dr Henry Cloud, The Unexpected Way To Help Your Marriage. September 8, 2019, Boundaries.me