Loving a Broken Man
By: Jessica Rock
Bad things happen to good people every day. It can affect us in ways that are unimaginable; leaving us to pick up the pieces by ourselves, when we don’t even understand why they happened in the first place. I don’t know why these events occur, but I do know that they affect men and women differently.
Although you may believe so, not all men are the same. I am sure of this because of my husband. My husband is the most incredible and loving man I have ever met. But he is broken. Someone has taken pieces of him that I will never get to see. He has experienced more bad than good in his 33 years of life; more hurt and pain than many people feel in a lifetime. He didn’t deserve any of what has come upon him. Learning of his history and seeing firsthand who he became despite his troubled past made me love him that much more. It isn’t always easy to love a broken man, as I have struggled trying to find the answers for the last 12 years.
“Broken” is not a term to be used lightly. Everyone endures some type of heart break or betrayal, but being broken means that there are pieces that cannot be put back together. It’s a piece of you stripped away, leaving a scar that cannot be healed. It’s not something you can easily move on from. It takes all you have to make it through each day. A wound so deep that others cannot fix for you; but rather you have to fix within yourself. I can fade the pain for my husband and take his mind off his troubles for a certain time, but I can never truly take his pain away. Oh, how I wish I could though.
Loving someone who is troubled or broken is not an easy task. It takes time invested and compromises among yourself. You learn that there are some things you will never be able to fix for him, no matter how hard you try; simply because you are not the person who caused this pain. In order to love a broken man, there are some things you should consider.
This one is important. There will be many things you don’t know about him. These are not secrets, but his possessions to keep to himself without the obligation to share. He will not open up to you until he’s ready. Men do not like to feel vulnerable, so give it time.
When he does open up to you, listen. Be present in the moment and observe his tone, expressions, and body language. These fine points will help you uncover what he is holding back. Even though he is opening up, he may not feel comfortable with sharing details. Being present and seeing how this experience has impacted his life and changed him as a person will help you understand what he needs most and how you should respond.
Be there and support him every step of the way. It will not be an easy journey, but supporting him will show him that he is not in this alone. Support is one of the most effective ways to help an individual overcome any obstacle. Be gentle with him. He may seem tough, but everyone is fighting their own kind of demons.
As humans, we want to know the whole story, including all of the uncomfortable details. Asking questions is not a bad thing; however, limiting the amount will help him be more comfortable when talking about the event. Remember, he’s not obligated to tell you the whole story, and if he feels pressured, he will shut you out. Focus on listening more than speaking.
Try to Understand
You will not be able to understand the pain and struggles he has to deal with every day, especially if he does not like to talk about it. Try to understand why he feels the way he does without being pushy or judgmental. Imagine yourself in his shoes and take on his troubles with him. Be strong for him when he cannot be.
You Won’t Understand
Even if you have been through something similar, accept that you will never truly understand his hurt. You will never know what he felt in that moment, why he reacted the way he did, or why it still bothers him today.
There will be moments of anger, frustration, and mixed emotions. Not only towards him, but also towards the people that inflicted this pain. It’s natural to feel this way, but try to keep your composure. Two angry people will never fix anything.
Give Him and Yourself Some Space
There will be many times that he will need his own space to evaluate his feelings; let him. He has been able to cope this far on his own, so if he wants time alone, don’t take it personal. It’s not about you.
This space can be beneficial to you also. You may begin to feel overwhelmed with failed attempts to make things better for him. It’s okay to feel lost. It’s okay to be confused. And it’s okay that you don’t have the answers. Take time for yourself when you need to.
Because you will never truly understand how he feels, there will be many instances in which you will disagree with him. These moments won’t appear during the vulnerable talks between you two. They will come out of nowhere and when you least expect it. Over time, you will learn his triggers and that sometimes his train of thought is influenced by his broken pieces. Let go of the small things, he doesn’t need anymore weight to carry.
Don’t Try to Change Him
This one was difficult for me and I still struggle with it. There are so many things I want to do to help my husband overcome his dark past. I want to defend him, take away all of his pain, and make him forget everything he didn’t deserve. I will never be the person that can make that change. No matter how hard I try, I cannot fix it for him and changing him is not an option. Besides, its these events that shaped him into the man I fell in love with. Stand by your man and embrace who he is.
Emphasize the Good
If you see a positive change in him, reinforce it. Tell him when he is doing a great job and praise him for changing something about himself, on his own, at his own pace. His past has been filled with negativity, your positivity will encourage him and make him feel good about himself. He deserves to feel good about himself.
Appreciate Him Always
There will be days where it is affecting him, but he doesn’t speak about it. When the bad comes, don’t fight it. Remember, he lives with these demons every day; some days he will not recognize his own triggers and it will seem like he’s in a bad mood or trying to pick a fight with you. Don’t give into it. Step back, give him the space he needs, and let him calm down. There’s only so much you can do to help.
Individuals with troubled pasts don’t always inherit necessary skills needed to grasp ordinary life obstacles. It takes an immense amount of time and effort for them to obtain coping skills needed to withstand the reoccurring thoughts of these events. This course can consume some, restricting them from learning basic skills through this time period. Understand and accept your differences. He will not always feel the same way you do. Don’t overwhelm him; love him for all that he is. Be cautious and gentle; after all that he has been through, he just needs a little peace.