I remember a time when Nanand I were facing some challenges. We had been married for more than a dozen years, but hadn’t entered into counseling yet. There were unresolved hurts that had built up over the years and significant breaks in our trust-bond. More and more we were silently (and sometimes not so silently) judging the relationship as poor. Poor moved to terrible, and at one point, terrible to nearly hopeless. Fortunately we entered counseling (me, kicking and screaming a bit.)
By the time we arrived in counseling we had done a good deal of rewriting the history of the relationship.
What do I mean? We traded our rose colored glasses for pairs of very dark ones. We mentally dragged out all the bad memories and suppressed all the good ones. This is very common with couples when they first enter into counseling after a lot of marital chaos. It is much easier to remember the difficult parts when you are in pain. But this filtering is very unhelpful when you are trying to get unstuck.
Every couples’ session that we do, we start out with affirmations. It reinforces the positive that exists (or existed) in every relationship. It reminds us why we got into the relationship in the first place. It brings a bit of balance to the counseling experience.
An injured person in particular will often be the one to rewrite their story. If they have already mentally begun to move themselves out the relationship they will be looking for “facts” to build their case. The goal is often to be able to say “It never was any good, anyway.”
If you find yourself doing this during tough times, try the following:
- Intentionally think of good times. Remember dates and celebrations and other significant events.
- Drag out the photo albums and pictures and try to connect with the good feelings.
- If you save greeting cards, read through them. If you have journals or diaries, go back to them and see what you find.
It is also possible to filter in the opposite direction. We can suppress the painful memories in the relationship in order to not face them. We accentuate the positive and minimize the negative. This is called denial, and can be dangerous. Battered people often do this. Some relationships may not be worth saving, even though the people involved are.
What about you? Are you guilty of rewriting history? What might you do to change that? As believers in God, we should always be seeking the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.