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So, how do you let go of the past to save your marriage?  If you are driving on a road trip and only look in the rear-view mirror what would happen?  You would eventually crash right?  That is because a rear view mirror is designed to show you what is behind you, not in front of you! Now, apply this same concept to your marriage.  When you continue to focus on the past mistakes and hurts what will happen? The marriage will eventually crash. Do you remember ever saying for better or worse?

Everyone gets hurt. You cannot get through any stage of marriage without feeling some kind of emotional pain in your relationship. Getting hurt is normal, but what you do with this hurt is definitively more important than the feeling of the hurt itself. Anyone would prefer to get back to life as normal instead of continuously living in the past since it cannot be changed.

How to Let Go of the Past | Save Your Marriage

Sometimes, we can blame other people for the hurt we feel in the beginning. We want the other person to apologize and acknowledge that what they have done was wrong. However, this mentality can backfire too. The issue with blaming others for your problem is that they can often make you feel powerless. If you confront the person and they insist they did not do what you are accusing them of or get defensive, it can leave you feeling hurt and even more angry. The lack of resolution can also be a horrible feeling that makes one feel like they are being made a fool of, or perhaps not appreciated.

Nevertheless, your feelings are always valid.  It is important to fully feel them and then focus on moving on. Nursing the hurt you feel for a long time and staying stuck in the past can be a bad habit, especially in your marriage.  In fact, it will ultimately end up hurting you, your spouse, and your marriage.

The Past

Letting go of the past is important to make room in your heart for new happiness on this journey. If you continue to fill it up with hurt and pain, you will not be able to open up your heart to something new.   Let’s face it, we all make mistakes – none of us are perfect, so remember this as you read the tips below.  Being able to forgive and to let go of past hurts is a critical tool in marriage.

Making the Decision

The first step is you have to a make the decision that you want to let go of the past. Things will not disappear or resolve themselves on their own. You need to make a conscious choice to let go of the past, or you will end up sabotaging any efforts to move on from it.

By making a conscious decision to let the past go, it means you are accepting the choice you have to let it go. To stop going over the details of past incidents every time you think of your spouse and relive the pain, you need to empower yourself to let go. Knowing that it is your choice to live a future, happy life instead of holding onto the pain can be quite a game-changer when it comes to moving on.

Express Your Pain as Well as Your Responsibility

How to Let Go of the Past | Save Your Marriage? If you want to learn how to let go of the past to save your marriage, you need to express the hurt you felt.  Whether it is in discussion with your spouse or just letting it out of your system (constructively, of course), you should still try it. You can write in a journal, vent out to a Relationship Coach, or write a letter that you won’t send to your spouse.  Getting it out of your system in one go can help you understand what the hurt was about specifically.

It is particularly important during conflict or times of stress that you and your partner slow down and really listen. Quickly responding to assumed (rather than actual) messages leads to ineffective and unhelpful communication, often escalating conflict.

The Discussion

If you choose to talk to your spouse about it, you need to tell them the extent of your feelings too. You can acknowledge that at first, the hurt had seemed small, but it has since then grown, and you feel like you are still holding onto it. By taking your feelings seriously and respecting your spouse, too, by being transparent about how you feel, you will be making the first steps toward letting go of any hurt you feel. Holding onto the feelings alone can also be detrimental to you and your relationship. Talking to your partner and working towards letting go can be a great step to take.

You may feel like the world exists in black and white, but it doesn’t really. It is true that you may not have the exact same level of responsibility for whatever happened in the past, but there may be a small share of hurt that you may be partially responsible for.  Are you a hopeless victim or an active participant in the incident that occurred, even if it was in a small way? Is the past going to become a part of your identity from now on? Will you keep thinking about the incident and what could have happened?

Questions such as ‘what if’ can be quite haunting. It can be damaging to continue to let them follow you through your life.

Stop Blaming Your Spouse and Being a Victim

No one likes to be the victim since it does not feel that great, but sometimes you continue to see yourself as a victim without even realizing you are doing it. The fact of the matter is that glorifying your fight against your spouse or the world is meaningless; since the world is moving on around you whether you are stuck or not.  You are the only one who is stuck in the past life has kept moving.

While your feelings are valid and matter, it is also a good idea to make sure that you don’t start thinking that your feelings matter over everything else. Your feelings, while valid, do not stand above everything else in the world, remember your spouse has feelings too. Your feelings are just a small part of the marriage and life that are interwoven with other complex ties. While it can be messy, that is just how life is.

The Choice

At every point in time, you have a choice to make. You can continue to feel bad about the past and someone else’s actions, or you can let yourself start to feel happy. You should always try to take responsibility for your joy and happiness. It is never a good idea to put something so important into someone else’s hands – no should have so much power over your life. If you want to be happy in a marriage, you should be independent enough to have the power of your own happiness too.

No matter how much analysis you put into the past, it will not serve to fix the problem of your relationship.  No one has ever managed to solve a problem in a marriage by over-thinking on their own. So, why should you devote so much energy and thought into a matter that has already occurred in the past?

Focusing on the Present

Now that it is time to let go of the past, you need to look ahead. Stop telling a story where the main character – you – are always a victim by something that happened to you in the past. You will not be able to undo the past no matter how much you try, so the best thing you can do is to focus on making today the best one of your life.   Releasing yourself is designed to feel great!

When you are focusing on the here and now, you will waste less energy and time on thinking about something that happened in the past. When the past begins to creep into your thoughts, as it often does from time to time, it can be a good idea to acknowledge the thoughts, but just for a moment.  After processing it for a moment, you should gently nudge yourself back into the present time.

Some people will definitely find it easier to do if they have a conscious cue to push them back into the present. You can say to yourself, “It is alright. What happened was in the past, and now I will be focused on my happiness and what I am doing right now.”

Remember, when we can crowd our minds and lives with the hurt and memories of the past, it can leave little room for anything else. The choice you will be making is to continue to dwell on the past instead of focusing on the joy of spending time with your spouse in the present.

The Future

Now that you and your spouse have talked or you have gotten it out of your system, you can focus on the future.  Hurt often comes from misunderstanding and miscommunication. You may have felt so hurt that you didn’t take the chance to check in with your partner either. To rebuild trust, you have to listen and talk to them first, but then also allow them to trust that you are moving past the issue.

When you talk to each other without blame, you are allowing yourself a chance to resolve any feelings of hurt or resentment. This will give you a chance to stop carrying them forward into fights, conversations, and problems. You will be able to focus on the present even more.

Forgiving Your Spouse and Yourself

Forgiveness does not mean that you have to completely erase your memories of what happened in the past, but rather, acknowledging that the person is deserving of forgiveness in the present. Sometimes, we may hide behind our stubbornness, pain, or ego, which is why imagining forgiveness can be hard too. However, forgiving someone does not mean that you are simply agreeing to what they did but rather that you don’t agree but are choosing to forgive despite that.

Remember, forgiveness is never a sign of weakness, especially in a marriage where there are no winners or losers. Instead, it can be more fruitful for your relationship if you acknowledge the hurt caused, your conscious decision to move forward, and move forward with your spouse by your side. Unless you are fully letting go of the past, it can be hard to move on.

The act of forgiveness is a tangible way to let go of the past. It can be a great way to empathize with your spouse and try and see whether they are coming from too.

This process of forgiveness is also important because you have to forgive yourself as well. Sometimes, we can blame ourselves for the past, even if it was unintentional. While it is a good idea to take responsibility for whatever part you played, there is no reason to continue beating yourself up over what has happened. If you are unable to move on from the hurt, how will you be able to focus on the future and whatever happiness it will bring?

Consider This

At Marriage Means Moore, we developed the 48-Hour Clout.  The clout is used to avoid arguing about things that should have already been resolved.  In other words, the PAST!  Well, the 48-Hour Clout is a powerful tool that should be implemented immediately.  For every issue or problem, you must address it so that it does not escalate within 48 hours.  That is right!  You have 48-hours to resolve all disagreements – you can no longer sweep issues under the rug for future arguments.  To learn more about the 48-hour clout pick up a copy of our book How Communicating Saved Our Marriage!

It is important to acknowledge that we understand the process of letting go can be hard. There are instances where you will feel like you have tried everything, but still don’t know how to let go of the past to save your marriage.  Everybody struggles with it since we are all human.  Actually, once you have held onto it for such a long time, you will start to feel like your are justified to hold onto the feelings.

However, nobody should have their relationship burdened with pain. You should not be forced to ignore your feelings or try to brush them aside. Getting relationship coaching or other forms of third party help can also be a good idea. To fix past mistakes or simply let them go, you may need the keen insight of an unaffected third party.

Conclusion

Nobody should have their life be defined by the past since it is not healthy and can add to our stress. It can begin to impact the relationship in negative ways and hinder our ability to be happy together. The more you hold onto the past, the more you will feel like the marriage is slipping away.

We hope that you now know how to let go of the past to save your marriage. It can be a long but rewarding process and will help your marriage in the long run!  If you would like to speak with an experienced Marriage Coach, about any other challenges or obstacles facing your marriage we offer a variety of resources for couples or you can contact us for a FREE Consultation.

By Antonio & Laura Moore, Marriage Means Moore  July 27, 2020 ©Marriage Means Moore, Inc. – All Rights Reserved.

10 Comments

  1. Very good advise
    Thank you

    1. Thanks we appreciate your taking the time to stop by and share your feedback.
      Coach Moore

  2. So what about continuing physical abuse?

    1. Domestic abuse in any form is unacceptable and requires a different approach.

  3. This is amazing article. Problem is that my wife is not interested in moving beyond the past. She believes it’s a continuous cycle of disappointment and hurt. Truly love her, and respect her perspective and space. Not sure how to move forward, if she is uncertain of her desire to move forward.

    1. Jeremy understand that both of you need to let go of the past from both sides to build a healthy relationship. This means that the only way for you and her to enjoy times together is by being free from any hurt feelings, grudges, and regret brought by past mistakes. It takes two to make a relationship work. In the same way, it takes two to break it apart. If you can’t let go of the past, expect your relationship to break down any moment.

  4. This is actually the situation I am into. But the hurt was too much when I remembered how my husband asked me not to joke with d daughter he had before our marriage. It hurt wen I remembered that he didn’t married me to be his loving wife but his intentions was to be taking care of his daughter of which despite his daughter is not living together with him. No moment of love sharing, because of his selfish interests. He turned my life immediately into a depressed woman. No one is there to talk to because we are living outside our country and our marriage was connected by a friend. One day he called me on phone after 1 year of living with him together that he will go back to our country to get another woman that will be taking care of his daughter. Rememberd, he didn’t lived with his daughter before we got married. We have lived together for 6years and for complete 3year, he treated me like a daughter of nobody because of his daughter. So, I keep on living with this hurt
    Remembering his main intension of getting maried to me was because of someone that can take care of his daughter. So, how can this hurt easily get away from any woman?

    1. Your situation is not an uncommon one in early marriage, but you are smart to want to learn some conflict resolution techniques before you have a major dilemma on your hands. There’s no reason to assume that solving conflicts would come naturally. It’s a skill you learn and then practice, so that you develop “muscle memory,” a response that will come more easily when you are in a conflictual situation.

      The first step in bringing up a problem is to start with an appreciation for the other person. In the situation above, you might begin by saying, “I appreciate how hard you work. You really make me feel like our future is secure because you have such a good work ethic.” This is the person you love and chose to marry so surely there is something in the situation that you appreciate or admire. Then move on to your view of the current situation. “I know when you come in you want to relax, but when you watch sports all evening I feel like there’s no time for us.”

      The next step is for the other person to make sure they have heard their partner’s concern correctly. In this example your husband might say, “So you feel like I’m watching too much TV?”

      This may or may not be what you were saying. You might be objecting to watching too much TV, or you might be saying TV is okay, but let’s watch something other than sports. It’s important for both people to know that they are addressing the same concern.

      If he doesn’t have it right, then tell him. Say, “No, that’s not it. I just don’t know much about football or hockey, so I can’t share with you when that’s what you’re watching. We could watch a game show together, or a mystery, or a movie at least some of the time. I like all those things.”

      Once he understands what your concern is, then you can work to find a compromise. One night, your husband might watch the game; the next, the two of you can watch a movie of your choosing.

      The same approach would work with a spouse who spends too much. He expresses his appreciation (“I appreciate that you want our home to look attractive”) and raises his concern about the family budget. She lets him know she’s heard his concern. Finally, they reach a compromise. There are many different solutions. The right one is the one that feels fair and comfortable to the two of you.

      Sometimes, though, the conflict is about something one person did that is wrong; it’s not just a difference of opinion. If she ran up the credit card debt, if he got a speeding ticket and had his license suspended–those situations would be harder to deal with.

      That kind of conflict requires one person to apologize, which is another habit worth cultivating. Apologizing is not the casual “sorry” that doesn’t have any real contrition behind it. A real apology is an admission that something has happened to offend the other person. It means taking responsibility for one’s action and making a plan to see that it will not happen again. Apologizing comes as a result of a conversation that allows the injured party to express how hurtful the incident was. These are not easy conversations, but they do allow the air to be cleared.

      The other side of apologizing is forgiving. When an honest conversation has taken place, and one person has truly apologized, the onus is on the other person to offer forgiveness. Saying “I forgive you” and meaning it is every bit as important as saying “I’m sorry” and meaning it. Marriage Encounter has an expression, “No Museum Keeping,” which means that if an offense has been forgiven, it is wiped off the record and cannot be brought up again. That doesn’t mean that if a similar issue comes up it can’t be addressed again. It just means that the prior offense cannot be revisited.

      Big conflicts don’t come along frequently in most marriages. Small ones happen all the time, so these new skills can be practiced on the little differences that might otherwise get swept under the rug. Then when the best tools are needed, they will be clean, sharpened, and ready for use.

  5. 12 years ago my now wife had a casual relationship with this guy she was good friends with in college (that lasted about a month). She then took me to his wedding when we were dating. The problem is, that I had NO IDEA that she had had this casual fling with this guy or anything, and I found out from her later on. I told her that in order for her to remain my girlfriend that he had to go immediately and she got rid of him completely (she originally wanted this guy at our wedding). We talked it over and she has done everything that I have asked of her including cut him and any reminder of him (friends, pictures, you name it out of our lives…that was four years ago) and we have been living happily ever after ever since…. Four years later, we have literally accomplished everything we wanted together. We have a beautiful house, in a nice neighborhood, awesome jobs, and started the family (with a 13 month old baby boy) and things have been GREAT…but recently something happened in connection with that nightmare and it has brought me right back to all the anger, pain, and feelings that I had back then. I feel like she was deceitful back then for taking me to that wedding and leaving out everything that I needed to know. Had I known anything about her and this guy, then I would have NEVER went to this wedding and neither would she. We have discussed this back then and worked through it (4 years ago). The problem is I have never really been able to get over the wedding honestly…just suppress it (and it took forever to do that). I know she’s sorry and that she has 100% honored me as her husband and our family (the girl is my heart and I love her) and that she would do anything to change the past, but I’m traumatized by the experience and the fact that she could put me through a wedding for a guy I shouldn’t have ever met (when she was supposed to have my back even if I was just her bf at that time). I don’t think she truly knows what it is like knowing that you were at a wedding for a guy who slept with my lady on numerous occasions and I the bf at the time and didn’t even know. She made me look like a fooland she truthfully made herself come off as a cheap sleazy (when in reality) she is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.I’m at a point where I don’t know how to move on because I’m consumed by pain, anger, and anxiety and I 125% blame her for it! This is exactly how I felt four years ago. I was finally free from this nightmare a couple years ago and had buried the past even if it was tough to swallow, but now she has unintentionally brought me back into the nightmare that I had finally put to rest. I’m considering marriage counseling, but she has REALLY damaged me (I don’t sleep well, I’m anxious, I get headaches, and I meditate on them hooking up). I’m just trying to see how you can fix what is broken. At the end of the day I know she is the one for me and I love her unconditionally. I couldn’t have done better. I just can’t seem to get over the hump and I think at this point I may need help to do so…the reality is I will never be whole until I figure out a way to let this go.

    1. Hi Marcus – first we want to commend you for your honesty – that is a HUGE first step in solving any problem is to acknowledge the problem. In marriage, it is inevitable to make mistakes, some bigger, some smaller. And it is also inevitable to feel as if you were wronged. Because marriage is made of two humans, and humans are far from being flawless.

      Why it is so hard to forgive
      Marcus any form of betrayal from the person you were supposed to be able to trust with your life is a blow that many just cannot overcome. Whether it is lies, infidelity, addiction, or any sort of a treachery, brace yourself for a bumpy road ahead. Because it won’t be easy to forgive your spouse. However, it is essential to do so. Both for the sake of your relationship and for your own wellbeing.

      When we find out about the betrayal, we will first go through a whirlpool of emotions, ranging from pure rage to complete numbness. We won’t know what hit us. But, with time, we will get through this initial shock. Unfortunately, it is here where the real problems with letting go start. It is here where we are no longer in a state of a complete surprise and disbelief, but we become painfully aware of the agony ahead.

      And it is at this point that our minds begin to play tricks on us. In essence, our brains are trying to protect us from getting hurt again by rearranging the way in which we see the reality. We will begin to doubt every step our spouse makes. We will become hyper vigilant of any possible sign of it happening again (lying, cheating, gambling, or similar).

      And it is the same process that makes you unwilling to forgive your spouse. You come to believe that, if you forgive, you are allowing your spouse to do the same thing again. However, this is not the case. By forgiving, you are merely moving on, we are not saying that it was alright to go through that. So, because it is so essential to forgive, here are three steps to achieve this goal.

      Regardless of what had happened in your marriage, there is always a way to see it from many different perspectives. Be it your spouse’s viewpoint, or a completely neutral one, you can choose to look at it differently, and not hold a grudge. In that way, you are about to start a new and freer life! If you would like some help please give us a call (248) 571-7040 or email coach@marriagemeansmoore.com. We would love to work with you and/or your wife to take your marriage from functioning to thriving!!
      Coach Moore
      Coach Tony

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