For years spouses ran over each other's emotions because we did not understand why such little things hurt the other one. Saying a small off-the-cuff comment could create great emotional pain to the other.
When the offended one tried to explain why it hurt so bad, the other would think it was quite silly and would sometimes even criticize the other for being too sensitive. It was really easy to think that small things could not possibly hurt that much.
We all understand the pain that comes from something like a paper cut. We have all received one at some point in our lives. We all can relate to someone who just yelled out because they just sliced that piece of paper across their finger. What we cannot always relate to is the emotional pain that someone feels.
On some level we can relate to each other's emotional pain. Most of us know the stress of money problems. We have experienced the pain of a broken relationship. We have had to deal with the pain of losing a loved one. But sometimes we just cannot relate to someone who seems to get hurt or upset by something that seems too trivial and meaningless to us.
Someone who has been called names most of their life can be hurt by a comment that may even be delivered in a joking manner. A person who was raised in a home with constant fighting may get upset at the slightest raising of a voice. Things that may be ordinary to most can cause great pain to others. The emotional pain can hurt as bad as that paper cut.
We need to understand that everyone has traveled a different road and the dents and dings they received along the way can make them react differently.
If you have an area in your life that is tender, that hurts with the slightest touch, you need to communicate that to your spouse. You cannot expect them to understand why you feel so hurt. It's okay to feel the way you do, but you cannot blame the other for not understanding if you are not willing to open yourself up and explain to them why that wound hurts so much.
If you have a spouse who seems to be "overreacting" there just may be a reason why. Give them a chance to explain what is going on. Why they feel the way they do (even if they refuse to be understanding).
When someone tells you what you said or did hurt their feelings, respect that. Do not write it off as an overreaction. Do not belittle them and their feelings. They are real and deserve to be respected.
Yes, we cannot always relate to the emotional pain of someone else. It can seem like a mole hill that has been made into a mountain. But to the person who is feeling hurt, it's real. It is their reality. You do not need to understand why; you just need to take a deep breath, look into their eyes, and say I'm sorry.
Tim and Lori Olson are the founders of the website Marriage Rules. They have been married for almost 20 years and have three children. They use their website and social media to help encourage and inspire people to have strong Christ centered marria