It’s been kinda fun this past couple of months, hasn’t it? We’ve been talking about red flags and the qualities in a potential partner that should make you pull the plug on the potential and head for the hills. Makes us feel all good and self-righteous and gets us thinking about how wonderful we are and what perfect, fantabulous partners we all deserve.
But then somebody has to go ask a question that brings us right back down to earth. In this case, the question was “what if you’re the one with the red flags?”
Naaaah. None of us here could possibly the problem in a relationship, could we?
Well, according to the law of averages, it would seem that at least half of us would be, given that there are two people in every relationship. (Unless there are just a few “problem” people who are really getting around, which is also a good possibility.) The law of original sin suggests that the numbers could be much, much higher.
I’ve written many, many times about how much I hate the question “So why aren’t you married?” There is just no good “sound bite” answer that seems satisfactory. It’s like they’re asking “So, what are the deep hidden flaws that obviously must repel all of your potential suitors?”
It’s not a polite question to ask others. But I think it’s a very, very good question to ask ourselves, and to ask God. “Seriously, why exactly is it that I’m not married?” Because the truth is that we’re all wounded, and we all bring our woundedness into our dating relationships. And it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility that there may be wounds – whether we’re aware of them or not – that are getting in the way of finding our “happily ever after.”
I realize we’re moving into very uncomfortable territory. We much prefer to chalk it all up to “there aren’t any good men out there” or “I can’t find anyone who shares my faith” or “everyone I meet is too this or too that.” And all of that that may be true. God knows it’s difficult to find a partner who shares our faith in a society where so few really practice it. And a lot of people who would otherwise be called to marriage are single today because of that. But I hate the thought of singles chalking it all up to “a good man (or woman) is hard to find,” when in actuality they are in need of healing in some areas.
I’m sure the potential wounds that could hamper a marriage search would be as varied as the unique individuals who make up the singles population. No two people are identical, so no two wounds could be identical. The list would probably run the spectrum from the glaringly obvious (a personality so obnoxious that nobody wants to get close) to the extremely subtle (unconscious fears that lead a single person to chose unavailable or unsuitable people to date, etc.) In future months, I’m going to talk more about what some of those wounds might be. But in the mean time, I wanted to start here, just to get us all used to the idea that there might be more going on in our singleness than just a demographic glitch, and to perhaps get us moving toward some healing.
There are obvious things we can do to try to become more aware of obstacles we face when it comes to marriage. We can listen to the people we date. Granted, they may have issues of their own. But they’ve also had a front-row seat to how we function in a relationship. Whether it’s in the context of an argument or the context of a breakup, that person is going to be offering plenty of “feedback” that could be useful. If you hear the same thing – the same complaints, the same observations – over and over, there’s probably something there you need to pay attention too.
But in the end, there will always be parts of ourselves that won’t be able to see. Don’t despair. Either way – whether we understand what’s going on or not – the solution is the same.
We go to God. We pray for healing.
The first step, if we’re aware of any factor that involves unrepented sin on our part, is to go to confession.
The second step is to go to God and ask for enlightenment. In a spirit of prayer, in a quiet place where we have a lot of time, we ask Him to show us, to the extent He will it, any woundedness that is interfering in our quest for the vocation of marriage. And then we listen for the answer. We continue to listen after prayer time is over. The next day, we go back and do it again. And again, and again. We thank him for any insights we receive. We tell Him we trust Him, over and over, even when we don’t hear answers.
And we pray for healing. Whether we’re clear on what needs healing or not, we ask Him. Because He knows, even if we don’t. We continue to ask him to heal whatever wounds we’re aware of, and those we don’t know about. We take time with Him. We ask His Mother to guide us and to help us pray.
There is a short little prayer that I say every night. I believe it’s powerful, and I highly recommend you say it too:
Jesus, through the power of the Holy spirit, go back into my memory as I sleep. Every hurt that has been done to me – heal that hurt. Every hurt that I have caused to another person – heal that hurt. All the relationships that have damaged in my whole life that I am not aware of – heal those relationships.
But, Lord, if there is anything that I need to do – if I need to go to a person because he is still suffering from my hand, bring to me awareness of that person.
I choose to forgive and I ask to be forgiven. Remove whatever bitterness may be in my heart, Lord, and fill the empty spaces with your Love. Thank you Jesus. Amen.
I think that, with God, healing is often a long process – like peeling away layers of an onion. It takes time, dedication and consistency in prayer.
Which strikes me as a good reason to start now.