Words are powerful. They can make or break a relationship. For some people, it’s really difficult to tell their significant other “I love you,” or “I’m sorry,” or even “I was wrong.” But, I’m not writing about those phrases today. In my experiences of ministering to women and couples, I’ve found some of the hardest words for spouse’s to say to each other are “I’m hurt.”
When you love deeply and sacrifice daily, you’re bound to need this phrase in your emotional vocabulary. The critical question is this: will you say “I’m hurt” when the need arises? Will you be vulnerable enough to expose your soul in ways that you never have before? Saying “I’m hurt” is really powerful because there is a different type of hurt that accompanies intimate relationships, unlike mere friendships or associations. When you share your mind, body, and soul with someone, it opens you to a degree of hurt that requires heightened trust and vulnerability. Maybe you know the type of hurt I am talking about:
That gut-wrenching hurt.
That socked in your stomach type of hurt.
That I didn’t see that coming type of hurt.
That I can’t believe you did that to me type of hurt.
That I don’t know if I can take it kind of hurt.
When it’s difficult to breathe, and you are ashamed to tell someone, and you start to question if your relationship is a lie. . . yep, that kind of hurt.
I’ve been there and felt that. Have you? I can recall three specific experiences in my 18 years of marriage when I felt that type of hurt. I won’t share them with you because some experiences between a husband and wife should remain sacred. But, you don’t have to know all of my business to understand what I’m talking about; you, unfortunately, may be experiencing your own hurt right this moment. And, your response to that hurt is what matters most.
In all three instances with my husband, I had to summon the courage to bare my soul and expose the wound by saying some of the hardest words I’ve ever had to mouth: “You hurt me.” Why were those words so difficult to say? Because they speak to my vulnerable places and expose my wounds. And most people don’t like exposing their wounds, not even to their spouses. We fear our weaknesses will be used against us. So, instead of saying, “That hurt me,” we find ways to mask the hurt and pretend we aren’t in pain.
- We lash out in anger when we are really hurting deep inside.
- We seek revenge when all we want is for our best friend and lover to acknowledge the hurt.
- We give the silent treatment because the hurt chokes the very breath out of us.
- We may even act as if nothing happened and then explode days, weeks, or months later.
- We argue about everything else other than the real issue at hand: how much we are hurting inside.
“Dammit, that hurt me.” Yes, those were my words to my husband. With tears streaming down my face and my heart in the pit of my stomach, I summoned the courage to say, “That really, really hurt me.”
It was something about those words that he heard. I could see it in his face. The details of the situation didn’t mean so much anymore. Who, what, when, where. . . who cares at this point? Our eyes and hearts were connecting on a deeper level, and I could see in his face these words:
Baby, I never meant to hurt. The last thing I want to do is hurt you.
I knew if my husband could take away the hurt he would. In that moment, God allowed me to see the man who would sacrifice his life for me. Only then was I able to truly forgive and begin to heal.
Healing begins when you know your spouse “gets” your hurt. That’s why it’s so important to speak the hurt so you can heal. The last thing you want to do is harbor hurt in your marriage. Nothing good can come from that. But when you open your heart and open your mouth and allow the words “I’m hurt” to penetrate your spouse’s soul, your marriage will be on the path to a deeper more trusting intimacy.
What words do you have a difficult time saying to your spouse?