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Handled well, pain provides a great avenue for growth

Monday February 4 2019

When we enter a relationship, although trust and faithfulness are paramount, they will be tested along the way.

When we enter a relationship, although trust and faithfulness are paramount, they will be tested along the way. PHOTO| FOTOSEARCH 

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Pain is unavoidable in relationships. Many relationship experts note that a certain level of pain is essential for the growth experienced in those relationships.

Every relationship faces hardships, opposing views, and various levels of challenges. However, how we view and deal with relational pain will open or shut this door of growth.

Many have been left bitter, angry and even desirous of revenge. When handled well, pain has a way of drawing out and bringing to life our untapped potential and skills.

Many relationships are characterised by the feeling of loneliness and neglect by a spouse, difficulty in accepting and embracing each other’s potential and perspectives on an issue. Lack of endurance and a joint approach in looking for solutions together, and failure to create an environment of open dialogue regarding solutions on issues or decisions reached.

Understanding change

In any relationship, growth comes as we change. Interestingly, with change comes loss and pain. In some cases, a partner in a relationship will never experience growth unless they change how they treat their spouse.


Such change may not be easy since it may involve incorporating or adopting new friends and habits. Staying in the old is a sure way of losing the battle of change. However, being willing to make certain losses may be painful, but beneficial.

Remember, pruning is an essential practice of growth and productivity in agriculture.

Selfishness or self-preservation is considered generally a safe place to be because most of us want to remain in control. What we fail to realise is that the probability of a happy and thriving relationship can boil down to one phrase, “death to self.” We must be willing to see others as better than us.

There is some good in your partner. Seeing this will depend on the kind of value you place on each other. Consequently, the investment we are willing to make and are able to make is dependent on the value we place in them.

Our level of sacrifice is also dependent on our attitude. An “others’ centred attitude”, where we hold others with greater esteem than ourselves must be the basis of this attitude.

People who truly love are those who are willing to lay down their life for the good they desire to see in others. The moment you become the star, and choose to blame, you will fail to see the need to make sacrifices for others. The illusion that your happiness is dependent on someone’s else’ actions or behaviour will kill your focus.

When we confess those powerful words, “until death do us part,” does that have any value in how we form the attitude we carry into marriage? Isn’t this supposed to be the foundation of giving agape or self-sacrificing love?

When we say ‘forgetting all others’, do we mean this for a fact? That we are committed to fight for each other and not each other? That we are committed to prune off all that would cause harm to our relationship?

Being under the illusion that we can only be with someone because we feel good when around them retards growth. The fact that others don’t accept you does not mean you look for external validation. This only feeds into your insecurities. When two love each other and commit to a relationship, they are actually saying that I accept you for who you are.

This helps one question the logic they use in making the choice to love that person in the first place. If our choices are based on sound judgment, it is most likely that any ‘shaking’ that may come will meet a firm foundation of a ‘value-based’ relationship and not just ‘feelings-based.’

Each person entering a relationship must, therefore, question what makes up their initial merger area. This includes the basic long lasting attributes that one feels will contribute to the desired relationship.

When we enter a relationship, although trust and faithfulness are paramount, they will be tested along the way. We can negotiate within ourselves or with our partner on what levels of honesty we can manage to bring into the relationship.

However, these must be values that are cultivated through painful experiences of life. Authentic relationships cannot negotiate on values like faithfulness and trust. When painfully developed, such values help solidify any relationship and give it its character.

The good in pain
According to Charles Kingsley, pain is not evil unless it conquers us. In retrospect, people with a strong value system will have the ability to conquer. Relational pain is never the enemy.

What poses danger is a couple’s inability to face and confront pain with sober minds. When we allow issues we are trying to resolve to cloud our minds, chances are that our sound judgment will be clouded too.

Being a religious person, I have got help from two things I read. One is that I can be angry, but I should not let the anger lead me to sin.

Self-control is then a great value that helps many practice sobriety in moments of intense pressure and pain.

Instead of hiding the pain, we should allow pain to wake us up to fruitful and responsible action. This is where fresh eyes and open hearts are birthed. It is amazing how I have discovered much about myself in such moments of pain.

So, instead of pointing a finger to my wife, I have, most often, asked myself how the pain I am experiencing is changing me to the person I wish I was not. Embracing this fresh perspective that pain is more like a friend who makes me discover what is ailing me is essential. The difficulties and suffering we face could lead us on a growth course or a destructive path.

As we faced a tough moment when we lost loved ones through an action of hate, I saw families deal with a different kind of pain. Why should such bad things happen?

The issue for me is not really why, but rather not allowing what happens to kill my resolve to be a better person.

According to Samuel Chand, the truth we need to embrace is that we can only grow to the threshold of our pain. As a result, don’t allow hate and hurt to fill your heart towards your partner because of the pain you are going through.

If allowed, pain can make us bitter, angry and disappointed with people and life. Sometimes we live with this illusion that we are relating to angels.

The fact is that marriage is about two imperfect people relating in an imperfect world with a desires to create an ideal environment where a thriving relationship will grow.

When dealing with your pain, be it at school, college, home or workplace, these principles apply.


10 points to assist you in developing a soldiering positive attitude

Every person must understand and interpret their pain in context

Discover the causes of the pain you are experiencing and how they can be managed

Clarify the lessons you are learning and how they are contributing to your growth

Guard your feelings, thoughts and reactions of your heart

Embrace pain as your greatest teacher

Listen to yourself, your partner, and those affected by the pain

Remain authentic and genuine

Don’t run — you could just be creating a greater mess for yourself

Learn to differentiate relational pain from abuse

Embrace the pain of growing through the challenge but reject abuse. Have good accountability structures.