Trauma, Marriage, and the Church

In Part One of this series on trauma care and the church, Dan discussed the crucial idea that we all—not just trained professionals—need to be aware of the reality and effects of trauma for people in our communities. This week, Dan addresses the particular types of trauma that form in the context of marriage, including trauma that comes after death, divorce, and the betrayal of domestic violence.

Marriage is so often the context for stress, for trauma, and therefore it has to be addressed uniquely. […] It is so crucial that people who have a sense of what it means to live the kingdom of God on behalf of others also know how they’ll address their own crises in the midst of their marriage and/or other marriages.

“The number of ways that you can bring harm into a marriage is almost legion.”

Dan discusses how trauma in marriage distorts our perceptions of what is good, true, and beautiful, robs us of a sense of control, and leads to a feeling of foolishness—“I trusted, I received, I gave, and now I feel ashamed.”

We too often attempt to deal with the problem—the marriage, the affair, the pornography—without addressing the realities of trauma and shock.

Trauma needs to be addressed first. My heart, my mind, my body need to be present, and if I find myself caught in worry, I’ve got to come back to the present. If I find myself caught in regret, I’ve got to come back and know that those are trauma symptoms, and the trauma needs to be addressed first.

In the final part of this series, Dan will discuss vicarious traumatization and what we can do to care for ourselves and continue to function well as we care for others.