Many experts suggest that couples must establish a base of a good relationship before they can deal with the pain that has been caused to one of the partners. Some even suggest that pain must simply be absorbed and put aside in the spirit of forgiveness.
It is difficult to share pain, particularly when your partner has hurt you. You want to lash out in anger and your partner doesn’t want to feel ashamed for having caused you pain. You understand that your anger is destructive, so you hold it in and your partner feels relieved to not be reminded of his or her hurtful act.
A healthy relationship must be safe. When you began dating and falling in love, you each sent a message that you were safe. You each gave messages that said, “You can trust me with your heart.” Now the relationship does not feel safe, your heart feels pain, not safety. How can that feeling of safety begin to be restored?
Your pain needs a voice. Your pain needs to be understood by your partner. In order for this to happen you must express your pain vulnerably. You must sound hurt not angry. Anger pushes your partner away which is not the path to safety you want. You want a path to safety that restores intimacy.
Your partner must accept your pain without judging or trying to change it. This is particularly difficult for males because they are uncomfortable around the expression of pain, particularly pain they have caused. Never the less, pain must be expressed and your partner must empathize with your pain.
It is not enough to express sorrow for causing pain. You need to know that your partner understands the depth of your pain. Empathy for your pain can actually be a beginning to feeling safe. If your partner understands your pain and cares for you, then he or she will be more than willing to avoid causing you similar pain in the future.
If you put aside your pain, then it is likely that the relationship will change permanently. Without safety you will keep a distance and your partner will get less of you. Sure you can go about your daily existence and focus on family tasks, but intimacy requires safety. You must feel safe before you give your partner your heart once again.