My wife has tender toes. I’m not speaking figuratively. They literally are. She’s had botched pedicures, ingrown toenails and even an unfortunate incident involving our daughter’s baseball cleat. Simply put, she’s got sensitive little piggies.
And sometimes I step on them.
I don’t mean to do it. But some evenings when we’re working in the kitchen and I see her standing by the sink, curly hair piled up on top of her head and our youngest daughter trying to climb her like a tree… well, I feel affectionate. So my big feet and I move across the room and I step in close to give her a gentle kiss when she shoves me violently back, cringing. After I realize what I’ve done I start cringing with her. Because I accidentally hurt her where she has already been injured before.
We do that in relationships, don’t we? Injure one another unintentionally, I mean. Often we wound each other and don’t even understand what we’re doing. We try to initiate romance, we offer constructive feedback, we explain what we need and suddenly an awful conflict occurs that makes us feel unwanted, disconnected and miserable.
It’s no surprise that we all arrive at marriage with hurts we sustained from past relationships. Where many couples do find themselves caught off guard is when they don’t factor in just how powerfully those old wounds are still affecting their present relationships. If I didn’t understand Tonya’s past injuries then when she pushes me away it would be easy to believe she didn’t want me or that our marriage is in trouble. But when I take into account her wounds from the past then her behavior is much more understandable and much less threatening.
Can you imagine how this kind of understanding changes the nature of our conflict? We can’t always help it when our toes get stepped on and we can’t guarantee we’ll never do some of the stepping ourselves. But the good news is that we don’t have to be perfect to enjoy a close, connected, secure relationship with those we love.
If your relationship is struggling and you need some help to find your footing it would be my privilege to walk with you through the process of restoration and reconnection.