Brain science shows that the very act of verbalizing our painful experiences to another person helps us to better integrate the distress of those experiences. We are better able to make sense of them. Our confusion levels go down, along with our initial sense of anxiety about facing the pain alone.
We hurt less after we have talked about our pain
with a trusted person.
It's what every attuned parent would want to do for a child in need. I am inclined to believe that this is the same desire of every spouse in early marriage. We don't want our beloved spouses to hurt. We want to be with them in their moments of need. I actually think that it takes a very long time for this level of caring to be diminished.
Even in more advanced stages of conflict, the listening spouse would still want to take the pain of her beloved. The husband wants to be able to do something to soothe his wife's hurts. In my opinion, it is not so much a difficulty with listening that takes place within a distressed couple. It is a difficulty in being able to convey pain in vulnerable ways which would draw our spouses to us versus pushing them away.
When we are hurting our entire nervous system is wired to fight or flee away from the pain. This makes it very difficult to draw close to our spouses during those times that we get hurt in the marriage. We defend ourselves with an attack, even before we get started on the approach towards letting them in. We brace ourselves for rejection and inadvertently sabotage ourselves, pulling away from ones who would want nothing more than to help us in our pain.
In this chapter we are going to take a look at ways that we can use the gift of vulnerable language to bring healing and hope to the areas of our marriage that have been so damaged by the Negative Cycle. We will be challenged to use language in very specific ways to take risks with one another again, to melt our defenses, and to bring down the protective walls that we built in our frightened moments. As you speak in vulnerable and committed ways to your spouse, you will have power to draw them close and build emotional security once again.
The Gift of Language:
Language truly is a gift to us as humans. It lifts us into a realm above all the other creatures on earth. It helps us richly communicate our joys, our longings, and our sorrows. It binds us together and helps us connect to one another throughout our lives. As any parent can tell you, the advent of language in your infant child comes with eager anticipation, great welcome, and joy. You long to fellowship with your child, and you rejoice when the door opens to new depths of communing and new depths of knowing.
When first we fall in love, there is such language! Oh, the poetry that flows from the lips of one lover to the other. How we croon our devotion! How we extol the virtues and beauty of our beloved one. We compliment, make promises, and dream aloud of all the ways that we will be together, ways that we will be one. Language links us and binds us, and it is the precursor to physical affection.
My maternal grandparents fell in love through the course of many letters written while he was miles away in college. This was long before the days of cell phones and Skype. Language shared between those two dear ones, led to a great romance and a legacy of love. I am a recipient of that legacy today.
Language is limited at times in what it can convey to us about the deeper truths of life and the essence of Divinity. Sometimes there are no words to express that which is profound or transcendent. However, language is such a gift that we finite human beings have for our understanding of God and one another.
God Reassures us through His Words:
God uses language to tell us something of who He is. God reveals to us His constancy and His ever present nature in the story of Moses at the burning bush. God tells Moses, “I will be with you, that is who I am” (Exodus 3:12, 14). This is His very nature, an “ever present help in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
“I will be with you.” What comfort that brings to us humans, who are wired with needs for security and hardwired with fears of the future and uncertainty about the unknown. God’s promise, conveyed through language, soothes our fears and provides deep reassurance of His presence with us, His guidance for us along our journey.
We understand and are known through our use of language. The primary way that people can know about our internal experience is through our use of expressive language. Language is the means by which we tell other people what we are going through, what we are thinking of, and what we need.