Getting Meaning from the Hurt You Feel

By Andrew Rusbatch
Co-author of Save My Marriage Today

Marriage is a cycle of life, and while we have a lot of good days, we all have our fair share of bad days too. Recently I had a bad day, one of those ones where it felt like all the things around me were being sent to challenge me. As much as I try my best to be one of those people who doesn’t let their moods rule them, my usual store of patience had evaporated by the time I got home and I was totally immersed in the events that had been going on around me.

I’m told by others that I have a transparent personality. This means that I see and feel things quite keenly, and speak about it. I’m told by others that that’s a good thing. You always know where you stand with people like that, and if you love them or you disappoint them you are always made aware of it. However, one other character trait that I possess is that I set very high standards for myself and the way I conduct myself around others, always careful to show the appropriate amount of love and respect to those that are close to me. The downside is that I set the same high standards for those around me and am disappointed when they let me down. I was talking to a friend about it last night, looking for ways to find meaning from the hurt I was feeling at being let down by a loved one, and she told me the most poignant thing:

“You feel disappointment so keenly because you love people so much”

So is it the same when we feel disappointed or let down by our partners? Do we feel disappointment or hurt so keenly because we put our partners up on such a pedestal and expect them to always get it right? This was perhaps a little more complicated than I had first anticipated, and it made me wonder whether the fault was on them for not living up to our expectations or standards, or whether our standards were in fact what was at fault. Is it fair to expect the same level of respect and love that you offer so freely to those that you love?

I tell myself that I must lower my expectations of others and that I will do so in what they expect of me, but the reality is that I seem unable to do so. I think the world of my friends. If I love someone I feel compelled to share this thought with them so that they might know that they are valued, and I constantly live in hope that the same feelings are felt in return.

But in taking a closer look, we realize that this is part of what love is about. Sharing our feelings of connection with others, and letting them know that what they do is valued. We feel a sense of togetherness when we are able to share our feelings with others. Love is also what keeps us coming back for more, keeps us trying to do things better, and helps us to keep trying even when we feel let down.

So how do we let go of the hurt?

Some would say that unconditional love is giving love without the expectation of reciprocation. But it doesn’t make it any easier. Part of loving those around you is knowing that they share the same values as you, and that they will be there to support you when you need it. Knowing that quitting isn’t an option, and that the benefit of hanging in there is going to deliver benefits to both of you is what keeps many people going. Telling your partner about your feelings and expectations is a hard thing to do, and exposes you to a certain amount of vulnerability. There is also the fear that your comments can be taken the wrong way, or that they can be used against you or interpreted as a criticism.

It’s not about criticism. It’s about helping your partner see why you feel the way you do. It’s about helping communicate a part of what makes you tick. It may not be perfect, and it feels scary, but that is one of the most valuable parts of this exercise. In talking to a partner about your feelings and what leads you to feel these feelings is a valuable part of intimacy. It’s about getting to know each other better.

And realising that loving someone is about loving them even when they let you down.

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