It is almost as if I can see the walls between some couples when they come in for the first session. I can actually feel not only the distance, but a self-protective, impenetrable barrier. The difficult thing is that walls have a purpose; they protect. They protect from disappointment, rejection, shame, conflict, and being ignored. We all have self-protective mechanisms that are activated when a threat is perceived. It is a natural, instinctual response…only it keeps us from fully loving and being loved.
Walls serve a purpose to reduce the pain that we feel from our spouse, yet walls and barriers perpetuate the lack of connection, expression of tenderness, feeling of love, and giving of oneself that is essential in healthy relationships.
At some point, it is important for couples to realize that the pain of maintaining the indestructible barrier hurts more than the vulnerability of no defenses. We have several choices when dealing with a wall in our marriage. First, we can keep it up, protect ourselves, and perhaps even make it stronger by distancing ourselves, giving less of ourselves, and accepting less of our partner’s love. Our second option is to take it down, brick by brick. This is done carefully over a long period of time. It is done through deliberately allowing more and more connection without the need to attack. Thirdly, we have the option to plow through the wall. This one is my favorite, and by far the scariest.
Couples usually come to counseling to be close again. To love and be loved. To connect, experience joy, and affirm the uniqueness and beauty of one another once again. So, as I say to some couples, “Do you want to plow through the wall? I will help you. I will run right beside you?” AND, more importantly, Jesus can break down the walls with you. Breaking through walls is one of the ways to participate in the redemptive story of God. Yes, it is scary, but remember this…
Jesus is a wall-breaking Savior, and he can give you the strength to break down the walls around you!
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility….”