Can you escape the ghosts of relationship past? All too often, couples pose the same question. They wonder if, after an affair or an act of betrayal, there’s a way for them to move past the hurt and approach their relationship with a new, sunny outlook.
It’s not going to be easy. But it’s not impossible. If you’re asking yourself this same question, there might be a way for you and your spouse to renew your bond.
Here's the key.
You need to look deep inside yourself and figure out what you’re trying to accomplish. You can’t undo the past – there’s no magical time machine to go back and undo discretions - but can you find a way to look past the past? Because that’s the element of this that you can control. You can’t change the past. But you can change how you perceive it.
At a low point, you might feel like you’ll never get over the hurt or the anger or the sadness. But the good news is that you don’t need to change the past in order to get over it. You just have to change the meaning of the past.
Sometimes in life, terrible things happen, but the lead to greatness. Consider a time in your life, completely separate from your relationship, where something happened that seemed horrible at the time. Maybe you missed out on your dream job. Maybe you broke your ankle days before a race. Maybe you and a childhood friend got in a fight that felt irreparable. Looking back, what might have felt like the end of the world might have had a silver lining. In many cases, things happen for a reason. Or, even if there is no reason behind an event, a negative action can lead to a positive outcome.
So you need to evaluate your marriage in the same way. Bad times are very often part of a process that leads to something good.
It’s the events that come immediately after those bad times that give meaning to the occurrences. One way to think about it – it’s your future that determines your past, not your past that determines your future. You have control over what’s to come. You have control over your actions and behaviors and that control allows you to re-evaluate previous issues.
You alone can change the meaning of your past.
Those couples with the strongest marriages have very often dealt with hardship. They often cite a period of awfulness or a tragedy as the catalyst for change. When something bad happened, they “got over” their past because the painful events inspired them to change themselves and change the way they viewed their marriage.
It might sound like you can only do this if both people are in the same emotional place, but that’s not the case. You can change yourself, your behavior, and your outlook on events and singlehandedly improve your relationship and yourself. Once your start the ball rolling with positivity and improvements, your spouse will feel the shift in momentum and likely join you in your outlook.
Even when times feel hopeless and your marriage feels like it’s crumbling around you, all is not lost. There are ways to heal the hurt and forgive and move on. With the right approach, you will be able to answer the question “why did this happen to me?” and know that it’s in your power to change the meaning of past events.