No one gets through childhood without wounds. For some children, the wounds are obvious and severe, like abuse and cruelty; for some, the wounds are more subtle, like inattention or neglect. But because humans are our only choice for people, we all get wounded. And that’s the important point: it happens because the world–our world–is full of people, not because we deserve it. Not because we are worth less than another. Only because humans are imperfect.
Every child gets physical scratches and bruises in the course of growing and learning life. Indeed, we would be concerned for the child who never got hurt; we would sense that they had been over-protected and we grossly unprepared for life. Sometimes a child experiences a severe physical trauma. We fear for their life; we wish it had never happened. Most of the time they recover and lead a normal life. I suppose the same is true for the emotional wounds. Sometimes they are severe or reoccurring, and the person may never fully recover.
It is as important—no, more important—that these wounds heal as it is for any physical wound to heal. And, just as our bodies have mechanisms built in to heal physical wounds, life has a mechanism built in to heal the wounds of childhood that must heal.
This is what marriage is for. Marriage is not about romance. Marriage is about healing. Said another way: marriage is not about two people pretending to be perfect so the other will be like them and if they just keep pretending, they can have a perfect romance and they will feel romantic feelings happily-ever-after.
The point of marriage is to heal the wounds of childhood. And for that to happen, marriage must be a safe place. In fact, it must be the safest relationship we ever have.
The “safe-ness” of a relationship is determined by what happens when people make mistakes. If people can make mistakes without scolding, lectures, eye-rolling, dramatic sighing… you have a safe relationship. However, you have an unsafe, even dangerous, relationship if people are afraid, or terrified, of making mistakes… which describes many (dare I say “most”?) marriages and families: children are terrified of making a mistake, of “setting off” a parent. Spouses pick each other apart, functioning like a deadly bacteria that destroys what was healthy and eventually kills. Many, many marriages are unsafe. Many, many marriages are the furthest thing from safe. Some marriage have never had a moment were mistakes were met with love and the wounds of childhood began to heal.