For years researchers have championed the positive aspects of being married. Healthy marriages offer us opportunities to have a partner in facing stress, a mate for vacations, not to mention a companion in achieving many of life’s goals. Friend, partner, and even soul-mate. When a marriage is functioning effectively, even our bodies reflect the healing power of close and intimate friendship.
But, what happens when your marriage is fraught with bickering and emotional abuse?
Medical professionals are quick to inform us about the impact of stress on our bodies. We need to pay attention to what emotional tension does to our bodies and minds. It is critical to understand that living in a constant state of discontent or endless unhappiness leads to an unlimited number of both physical and emotional maladies.
When Life Makes You Sick
Carrie, a forty-year-old woman called me, having finally reached the end of her rope. The mother of two adolescents who will be leaving the nest in the next two years, she has lived in a loveless marriage for years. She copes by staying busy in her vibrant career, volunteers in church, follows the city political actions and dreams of a day in the future when she will actually be happy.
“I’m sad all the time,” she shares. “No one knows how sad and depressed I am.”
As we talk further, Carrie shares the impact of emotional tension on her body. She has myriad of physical symptoms, and not even her doctor knows the full extent of her physical and emotional pain. The emotional tension she holds in her body is taking a toll.
Carrie’s physical and emotional tension have become a part of her. She wears them like the clothes she puts on every day. She hasn’t known true happiness for years. She doesn’t know where to look for help and has serious doubts that she can ever recover the joy she knew as a young adult. She is paralyzed.
We’ve all heard the cliché, “Do what you’ve always done and you’ll get what you’ve always got.” This is a powerful piece of wisdom. The unhappiness that leads to physical symptoms is often the product of living a life without healthy boundaries, tolerating emotional abuse, and living in a constant state of tension. When we finally hit the bottom, when we’re finally sick enough, we make changes that can lead to emotional relaxation.
Practical Action Steps Toward Physical and Emotional Healing
- Take an emotional inventory. How are you doing—really? Do you live in emotional tension or relaxation? If you live in tension, what impact is that having on you? Don’t live in denial about the impact stress and tension are having on your mind, body, and spirit.
- Understand the sources of your emotional tension. While we like to point to others as the blame for our depression, we often contribute to our unhappiness with attitudes of passivity, feeling like a victim, failing to face the truth of a problem, and refusal to do effective problem-solving.
- Take action. You alone are responsible for your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Physical and emotional health doesn’t just happen. We must actively create an environment where we can thrive physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
- Set healthy boundaries on anything and anyone that robs us of well-being. We must protect ourselves from “crazymakers” who create chaos and invite us into their world of tension. We must actively create a world where we can thrive physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
- Protect your ‘Self.’ Learn what is important to you and how you have been created. Where do you feel emotionally relaxed and healthy? How can you replicate that experience? You have one life, and God wants you to live in peace and to care for your mind and body as His temple.
Has the emotional stress in your life made you physically ill?
Are you looking for a way to begin healing, both physically and emotionally? We offer several ways for you to get started here at the Marriage Recovery Center. Contact our office or visit our website for more information—we’re here to help!