marriages that survive relational trauma

Distillation on my drive to Lubbock of what I have witnessed and what couples have reported to me or friends of mine in terms of successful rebuilding of marriages after marital trauma.

  1. relational trauma in terms of betrayal does not determine whether a marriage can be rebuilt.
  2. relational trauma sends all parties to the hospital for major surgery and has long term consequences for everyone involved (whether the couple chooses to remain together or separate)

In marriages that are built anew (not going backwards or pretending the trauma/betrayal did not occur or that there are no consequences) and made stronger, the following is what I believe to be the common denominators and yes it puts a lot on the shoulder’s of the betrayed. But we’ve all experienced that life is often unfair as are the actions and inactions of those who hurt us and those we are hurt by.

the capacity to forgive

the capacity of the betrayed to forgive
(consciously or unconsciously)
himself for wounds he believes
he has inflicted through his own
action or inaction on his partner;
the betrayed’s capacity to forgive the offender;
secondarily, the capacity of offender
to acknowledge and forgive herself
for her actions and inactions
that wounded her partner;
the capacity of the offender to forgive
their partner for perceived wounds
inflicted by her partner through the

capacity to accept and receive acts of love

The capacity of the betrayed to accept and
receive acts of love from the offender.
The capacity of the offender to accept and
receive acts of love from the betrayed.

I am sure the complexity is far greater than this but at a fundamental level these are the patterns I observe in those who chose to move forward together and build a strong restorative marriage–these also seem to be the patterns of marriages i have witnessed that are strong sans any major relational trauma.

Not observed, but assumed based on my life experience to also be considered is each partner’s capacity to own their own crap and actually do the work to move themselves toward the healing of life wounds.

I also believe even if the marriage is dissolved, healing and the non-repetition of wounding behaviors come to those who exercise and expand these capacities.

I also believe these capacities even without an incident of major betrayal to be building blocks of a strong marriage because everyday there are little betrayals, perceived or actual, that need to be dealt with.

God please give me the ability to exercise and to expand these capacities within myself.