Marriage requires 100 percent from both partners; but what if one or both partners don't have 100 percent to give?
In an ideal world, children would be raised in homes with a loving mother and father where everyone spoke kindly to one another, everyone felt loved and respected, there was no abuse of any kind and each was given the attention, love and support he or she needed. But unfortunately, that is not usually what happens. Though some may have varying degrees of idealism, there is no perfect family.
Sadly, we live in a world where abuse, addictions, divorce and other forms of unhappiness seem to penetrate many homes. When children are raised in these types of environments, they usually continue similar patterns as adults - even if it's not how they want to raise their own family. Traumatic childhood experiences have a huge impact on children throughout their lives and into adulthood.
A Family Studies article states, "We know that well-paying, decent work and marriage have benefits. But what are the limits of those benefits, particularly for people with traumatic childhood experiences? The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study of over 17,000 people found that almost two-thirds of participants reported at least one 'adverse childhood experience,' like physical abuse, a household member's mental illness, or parental separation or divorce (the study identifies 10). More than one in five people reported at least three adverse experiences."
Does being a "broken" person mean that you should give up on having a strong marriage? No! But it will take some work.
Work toward becoming more "whole" as an individual
Traumatic childhood experiences such as abuse, living with someone who has a mental illness or an addiction, having parents divorce, or other dysfunctional situations can deeply impact a person. Such problems can lead to trust issues, addictions, substance abuse or continuing the negative patterns you were taught as a child.
Once you recognize this, you may also realize the need to heal from these painful experiences. Seek therapy from a professional to help you heal and understand the past you grew up with doesn't have to become your future. As you find ways to mend your broken pieces, you will become more whole and ready to be a part of a healthy marriage.
Encourage your partner to find his or her own healing
Because most of us do have negative experiences in our pasts, we all need some sort of healing. While some may be able to sort it out on their own, others may need help. Sometimes, a loving spouse can help a husband or wife heal from his or her past or get the help he or she needs. Be loving and offer support as necessary.
Support your spouse as he or she works through past wounds and learns to become more whole. Encourage healthy changes and don't give up hope!
Strengthen your marriage together
If you're already married, as you work through individual problems, you'll be more prepared to deal with issues that may have entered your marriage. While some may heal naturally, others may require the help of a marriage counselor. Working on problems individually and together can strengthen your marriage and bring you closer together emotionally, mentally and spiritually. You will need to rely on each other's strength when things are difficult.
It won't always be easy - growth and change rarely are - but overcoming your past and becoming a better person is worth it. You don't have to let your past ripple throughout your life.