A person has many experiences before they get married. Each person going into a marriage relationship has eighteen plus years of memories (both good and bad), victories, failures, heartaches, etc., and those events and circumstances shape us into who we become. Although we can overcome difficult things from our past, it is typically not as easy as simply deciding, “This won’t bother me anymore.” Most of the time deep-seated hurts, or even delusions of grandeur instilled in a person by his or her family, take a good deal of effort and time to work through.
When you marry someone, you’re marrying someone very familiar who you’ve spent much time with (at least, we hope so)… and… you’re marrying a stranger. You simply cannot know everything about a person before you get married to him or her. Your spouse won’t even know everything about himself or herself on the wedding day. Some things are hidden so deeply inside of us that it takes digging to get to the bottom of things.
Although many people have been indoctrinated with the merits of high self-esteem, people still deal with feelings of worthlessness, self-doubt, and insecurity about their abilities, physical features, and intellect. As a single person, it can be easier to disguise self-doubt because he or she can go home at night and not have to share the depths of his or her heart with another person (unless he or she chooses to do so). However, as a married person, if you are unable to share your heart with your spouse, there is a more than probable chance that your relationship will start to decay.
Negative self-talk, and faulty beliefs about who we are, can become habits in our lives. We may have many people telling us that we are lovable, talented, hard-working, and irreplaceable, but their positive affirmations are rarely strong enough to beat and destroy our negatives voices. How we view ourselves will affect our actions; and, our actions will always follow our beliefs. Even if we wouldn’t verbalize the thought, “I believe I am worthless… I believe I fail at everything… I believe people don’t like me… I believe I’m fat and ugly… etc.,” many negative beliefs can still be hiding inside of us and our actions will still reflect them. Someone who is truly confident cannot constantly have a tape player in his or her head saying otherwise.
Self-deprecating singles often turn into self-deprecating married people who have an insatiable need to be “uplifted.” It is truly rewarding to help someone we care about overcome his or her doubts and fears. However, when people have negative beliefs rooted in the deep, dark, hidden places of their heart, it will be exhausting for a significant other or a spouse to try to pull their loved one out of it. Simply hearing, “You’re great! You’re wonderful!” from someone who loves you does not change what you believe about yourself. It is good to be affirmed; however, when someone feels so deeply disgusted with themselves, having someone constantly tell them that they are good can come across as patronizing. To really help someone dealing with self-deprecating behavior, you have to help them discover and attack their self-deprecating beliefs.
So, what are you saying about yourself? If you are not yet married, you have regular self-deprecating internal talk, and you can tell that your negative beliefs about yourself are (or will be) causing hardships on your relationships, I would strongly recommend seeking out personal counseling before getting married. Your future spouse may love you deeply, but it can be too much relational stress for him or her to be the only one working with you on this journey. Eventually, exhaustion will set in and roots of bitterness can slyly plant themselves in your relationship. It may seem selfish to “work on yourself” before entering into a marriage, but it is one of the best things you can do for your future spouse and yourself. If you are married, it’s not too late. Find a counselor with a good reputation, who loves the Lord, uses Scripture in counseling, and humble yourself before him or her and go to work on your beliefs. Sometimes people who feel badly about themselves sabotage opportunities to change because it feels better than failing. It may be scary, but it is a life-changing step that is worth taking for the good of yourself, your spouse, and for the legacy you will leave to your children.
What negative self-talk are you trying to overcome? Are those beliefs healthy or dysfunctional? If dysfunctional, with what beliefs could you replace them so they would be biblical and healthy?