No one hands you guidebook and says “here’s a way to love your spouse that has dealt with trauma” Sure, you can read an article or look at the latest textbook but there is absolutely nothing that can prepare you for the actual reality of the situation. Being in a marriage has many ups and downs when you began to add differences in backgrounds, trauma and not to mention two sinners that must co-exist amongst one another, that within itself can be challenging.
Terrance has been so gracious and patient with me knowing that I have dealt with abuse. I would imagine that sometimes it is frustrating, confusing, and hard but God has allowed him to love me well through it all. I know that he is truly a gift from God. God knew the partner that I would need to walk through life with.
When Terrance and I first started dating I was open about my past. I told him everything that I had experienced up until the time that we met. Now, that I look back on it; If I were him, I would have RAN! We talked about my sexual history, my experiences, my thoughts, and my concerns. At the time he was understanding and somehow that allowed us to grow closer together, but I do not think that he was prepared for the emotional and physical toll that my past would have on our relationship!
The first time we walked through a trigger was when Terrance wore his favorite cologne. We got all dressed up and ready for dinner; he sprayed the cologne and the smell hit me like a ton of bricks. I gagged and immediately felt sick in the stomach. I felt so horrible that I had to tell him I did not like the cologne because someone that had abused me wore it and it reminded me of him! He did not get upset at all, in fact, he never wore the cologne again.
Sadly, the triggers, flashbacks, and thoughts would not stop there.
Being grabbed and fondled are just not my thing amongst many more. It brings me back to a place of helplessness, turmoil, and not being in control. It was important for me to speak up when things presented themselves or else, I knew that I would begin to dislike my husband for something he did not do. But, unfortunately, that did not happen. I was angry that my husband wanted to love me, I was angry that he found me attractive and wanted to kiss on me, I was angry that he wanted to hold my hand and I was angry that he saw me as whole and good. Why would this man love something so broken and fragile? I just did not understand.
It was evident early on that I needed professional help. Not only to deal with the trauma but the anger, abandonment & fear as well. For so long I had bottled up the sexual, mental, and physical abuse, and the moment I had to love someone it came out in a horrible way. My words and my actions hurt my husband and none of it was his fault. He was there to love me.
As I began to heal, I recommended to Terrance that we both see a marriage counselor together. He said “yes”. Our therapist zoomed in on the abuse and gave Terrance a glimpse of what it is like to deal with trauma and ways in which he can love me through the different emotions. We also dug into Terrance’s past and I learned ways in which I can love him well too.
Our marriage is everything it is because God is! There is nothing that we can do apart from Him, He is at the center of it all. Terrance and I now have an open line of communication, I can tell him when something triggers me but do it in a loving way. My husband is gentle with me and things are 1,000 times better in ALL aspects.
Today, when I am faced with triggers, I have the tools to work through them and I have been so blessed to have a partner that walks with me through it. Terrance sees me, he knows my heart and he is patient.
In my prayer time, I always ask God to allow me to see my husband as He sees him! Now when I look at him, I see a sinner who is also in need of God's grace and mercy, my brother in Christ, and the partner God carefully chose for me.
To my husband,
Thank you so much for loving me and seeing me as a whole being. You have shown me patience and kindness and there is no other man that I would want to walk through life with. Thank you for pointing me back to the cross when I was far from God and thank you for telling me that true happiness only comes from Him! Thank you for allowing me to understand that you are human and every day you are going to do something that I do not like but that does not mean we have to stop loving one another. You have never given up on me, on us and for that, I will always be grateful.
Being in a marriage with someone that has experienced trauma can be difficult, but you can overcome it. Be patient, be kind, and know that there are people and resources out there. Terrance and I wouldn’t be where we are today if God wasn’t at the center of our marriage and we didn’t take the necessary steps to heal. Thanks for reading part IV.