Our dating anniversary is October 19th (which is different than our December 19th wedding anniversary). To celebrate 15 years of dating, we secured a babysitter and enjoyed a night on the town. The incredible fall weather kept us wanting to be outside, so we took a “Ghost Walk” of our small town. We’ve been on a few of these before in the different cities where we’ve been on vacation, and while neither one of us has a particular interest or belief in modern-day ghosts, we enjoy walking in the fresh air and learning the history of the town.
As I listened about all the “ghosts” of people from our city’s past that still “visit” our town, I thought about marriages. Ghosts from the past can visit a couple of today if they aren’t careful.
Is your marriage haunted?
I’m not asking if you have ever seen or felt a real ghost, but perhaps you have experienced the presence of haunted people, places, wounds, and thoughts in your marriage.
The Ghosts of People
If not careful, the memories of people from our past can resurrect and become a living entity in our marriage.Insecurity one spouse might feel toward their partner’s dating history, or sexual past can easily haunt a marriage. The ghosts of people might “rattle chains” through old love letters and photographs we kept or following them on social media. We can conjure them up by sending an e-mail or searching the internet for their name. Technology aside, some days we might remember someone with whom we were once close. We can brush it off as a distant memory or excuse it by assuming we were merely reminiscing about an old friend, but people have the potential to be ghosts trying to wreak havoc on our marriages.
I have personally battled with this ghost!
I have not had a personal Facebook account for six years, but when I did, I was “friends” with many of Jason’s ex-girlfriends. Rationalizing that I was so secure in our marriage, I granted them access to our lives. Over time, however, my security gave way to doubts. My imagination fixated on these women, and I regularly pondered their thoughts toward Jason. Fear became my motivation to post specific photos or share romantic stories. It took weeks after deleting my Facebook account before I realized the danger I placed my family in because I invited ghosts from the past to be a part of our marriage.
This category of specter can be quite challenging to keep at bay. While we can unfriend someone from a social media site — we can’t get rid of the coffee shop where we had in-depth conversations with someone before marriage. Driving down a road to get to a friend’s house might take us directly past his old place. Without being intentional at all, we can find ourselves in a situation where memories come flooding back.
Haunted places do exist, but they do not have to remain that way.
Instead of avoiding certain places that were once a significant part of a different story, create new memories with our husband! Take him to any “haunted houses” that might exist so that you can develop a new association with them.
Four years into our marriage, my husband swept me off to Nashville, Tennessee. His plan for this weekend included giving me a grand tour of the city where he lived for five years. That trip is significant to me because I was able to become a part of my husband’s past as he introduced me to his favorite parks, local hangouts, and old dorm rooms. On the last day of our trip, as we were sitting at his usual study spot, he took my hand and whispered, “I am thankful to now have memories of the two of us on this campus…”
Old Wounds Still Haunt
This phantom is a hard one to combat because it can manifest in a plethora of ways. Words spoken in a moment of anger, our husband’s sin struggles, the betrayal of a friend, or a traumatic childhood event can cause us deep hurts in our heart that can come back to haunt us without any warning! Hearing a particular song or reading an old journal has the potential to unleash a wraith. Glossing over the gaping wound from our childhood instead of giving it the proper attention that it needs to heal completely can leave us vulnerable to the ghost of old wounds.
We must deal with our hurts (past or present) constructively to prevent them from becoming “a doorway.”
The root of the most ghosts is what we think. When left unguarded, our thoughts have the power to revive emotions and memories that were once dead. Sowing reminiscent thoughts of a former flame or daydreaming about being with someone who is not our spouse reaps nothing but discontentment and comparisons. Refusing to let go of hurtful conversations and continually dwelling on something said or done can also leave us with scary thoughts.
When we feel these ghosts coming on, we must obey 2 Corinthians 10:5.
Taking our thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ equips us so that we are less vulnerable. Christ never wants us to daydream about another man. Nor does he condone withholding forgiveness from another. We grant spirits access to our minds, hearts, and marriages when we don’t have a tight reign on our thought life. Likewise, ghosts lose their power when we are faithful followers of the Word.
Investigate the Past
As Jason and I leisurely strolled down the city streets, I was struck by how much knowledge of the past our tour guide knew. Each stop came with a story of who lived there or what significant events happened in that location even centuries before. The historical society sponsors the Ghost Walk, and to be a guide, you must not only be a member, but you commit to doing the required research.
We must know the past to identify which ghosts might be causing trouble.
When a couple knows each other’s hurts, mistakes, griefs, and joys thoroughly, they better understand what is at the root when an old ghost pays a visit. It is then they can address (or readdress) a childhood lie or the fear of rejection that came from the end of a past relationship. We better understand our actions and responses (and those of others) when looking at the context of our entire life experiences. Being aware of any potential ghosts that might be lurking in our past or our husband’s past helps us identify them when they make their presence known.
Are there any ghosts lurking around the corners of your heart or mind?
While my marriage isn’t 100% ghost-free, it is on the path to becoming so. Years ago I committed to stop pursing, flirting and living with old ghosts. And while some behaviors and thought patterns take time to change, the strides we’ve made have improved our relationship immeasurably. No marriage is naturally free of phantoms, but part of our role as wives is to make sure we consider our relationship such sacred ground that we do not permit even the tiniest threat into our holy covenant.
What “ghosts” threaten your marriage?
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