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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.

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