Given that life involves challenge, we ALL enter relationship with a past. Whether it be struggles from childhood, trauma, failures or regrets, pains from past relationships, etc. we all bring our own challenges to the partnership...even if we've "worked on ourselves."
Assuming there is an openness on the part of each partner, a love relationship can be a perfect venue to support each other in healing the wounds of the past.
Can we really heal our wounds in love relationship?
As partners, we need to learn to provide “safe space” for each other to feel comfortable to reveal the most vulnerable parts of ourselves. A safe space is a place where you can communicate and express emotion while being able to trust that your partner will show love, nurture and compassion without the fear of being judged or retaliated against.
When core wounding is being expressed, it is generally not coming from that part of ourselves that is rational, sensible and balanced. These wounds may present in the voice of a frightened child or an angry teenager. What is key in holding safe space for your beloved, is to not try to “fix it”, make sense of it or even try to talk them through it.
In many cases, simply having your partner hear your deepest fear, shame, guilt, etc. without reaction or withdrawel of their love, can be a key step toward healing. Some core wounds will require the assistance of an experienced professional, so it important to seek professional help when it feels needed to support your process.
The Blockages to Healing in a Love Relationship
Most of us are not used to facilitating healing for our partner or having our partner do this for us. Often times, our core woundings from the past are showing up in the form of arguements, misunderstanding and communication barriers in our present love relationship. Because of this, as we start to release these wounds in “safe space,” it can trigger upset in our partner about issues from our present relationship. What is key when providing safe space for your partner’s healing, is to not get drawn into the current upsets (or your own core wounds) and just allow your partner to feel and express without having those expressions get “stuck” to you.
When a couple begins to open their relationship to healing, it can be like opening the flood gates to wounds that need expression. While one person in the relationship may have experience more “severe” wounding, it is important that each partner be given a chance to have safe space held for them so that both people feel loved, held and validated. In general, it would be advisable to decide ahead of time who will be holding safe space and who will be held. After holding space for one of you, give a day or two for the healing to settle in before holding safe space for the other person so, as the holder, you can be grounded in a more loving, balanced place within yourself.
The Keys to Creating a Healing Environment
Cultivate Unconditional Love. When a partner is about to share some of the scariest, seemingly ugliest parts of him/herself, it is key for him/her to know that you will still love him/her, no matter what is expressed during healing. Actually, when we practice unconditional love for our partner during healing, we often discover a deeper love and compassion within us that feeds the relationship.
Focus on the “Highest Good”. An invaluable practice for each of you while engaging in healing, both as giver and receiver, is to center your energy, expression and mental space in creating the most loving possible outcome — the most loving to yourself, loving to your partner, loving to your children, etc. Often we get caught in the rut of “being right” and being right implies that your partner is wrong. Leave open the possibility that both of you can be winners.
Give Each Other Space to Heal. While we can hold loving space for each other’s healing process, it is ultimately up to each of us to do our own inner healing work. Sometimes that requires a little time for self reflection and some space to continue moving through the emotions that have surfaced. While it may feel threatening for your partner who is healing to want to have some personal space, consider it a natural part of the healing process and not about wanting to be away from you.
Use “I” Language. When your partner is holding safe space for you to heal, it is important to avoid turning it into an opportunity to use your partner as a punching bag. One way to avoid this is to state your experience in terms of “I feel sad when this happens,” instead of saying “You make me sad by doing. . .” If you are actively blaming your partner for things, you are missing the opportunity to look inside of yourself and do your own healing, which can be very liberating.
Stop Trying to Change Your Partner. Avoid trying to manage your partner’s healing process by interjecting topics that you think your partner needs to do healing on. Sometimes one partner (usually a woman) has a much easier time communicating and expressing emotions. When holding space, do so without agenda or expectations. Over time, as the more reluctant partner feels safer to just be him/herself and go at his/her own pace, emotional expression can start to occur. Keep in mind that some of us have grown up in families where expression of emotions was off limits, so please be loving and patient.