Pain and Injury, Part of the Process

I wish it weren’t true. No matter how careful I seem to be during training and fitness events, injuries happen. I’m realizing that injury, injury recovery and monitoring pain are part of the process. Physical health and fitness are not accomplishments as much as they are disciplines incorporated in a lifestyle. Injury assessment and recovery are part of that lifestyle process.

It is true that careless and reckless behavior accounts for most fitness injuries. I was inspired by barefoot running testimonies on the internet and decided to run a mile on the treadmill in socks. The strain to my calf muscle left my fitness routines thrown off for two weeks. Or the times I neglect to trim my toenails before long runs and find afterward my socks bloody from the cuts on my toes from sharp toenail edges. But, even being careful injuries still seem to happen and recovery just simply takes time. Sometimes recovery can be aided with appropriate treatment but it still takes time. I’ve found if I try to rush recovery I can actually prolong the injury and recovery time.

Injuries and recovery are a complex interplay of my body, my brain, and motivation. I am learning to listen and read body sensations of discomfort and pain, then interpret their meaning, all the while trying to make adjustments in goals and maintain motivation to keep going. It can all be downright overwhelming. I’m constantly being reminded to be flexible and relax. To take advantage of what I can do and be careful not to add more injury to existing injuries.

These insights about managing injury and recovery might apply to a marriage relationship. Stuff happens; even on my best day I can be insensitive, unaware and as a result say or do something which injures my marital relationship. Part of what makes these sometimes small injuries compounded is my dismissal and neglect of them. Just as with my physical body, an injury ignored and neglected is greater injury about to develop. I can see in my marriage how critical it is to take nothing for granted and be careful not to assume that just because something is, “no big deal” to me, it should not be a big deal to my wife Mary Jo. Sensitive open communication on expectations, disappointments, offenses, and desires goes a long way to healing minor relationship irritations and injuries, preventing more significant injury due to neglect.

Major relationship wounds, like physical wounds, need attention, i.e. “treatment” and time to heal. Just as with a major physical injury adjustments in goals and expectations are needed, adjustments in goals and expectations are needed with relationship injuries. Patience, flexibility, generous amounts of forgiveness, grace and understanding go a long way to healing major relationship injuries.

Persistent physical injuries often need the care and attention of a medical professional. I’m currently seeking guidance about some persistent low back pain which interrupts and interferes with my training. I really should have sought professional help sooner. I kept thinking the injury would resolve itself. Nine months of discomfort should be enough to convince me I need medical attention. I’ve often thought how many couples come to our Marriage Intensive programs having delayed attention to persistent relationship injuries which could have been cared for and set on a path of healing if couples had sought our assistance earlier. If your marriage is suffering from persistent injury and lack of healing don’t be like me with my low back pain. Explore your options for professional help from a professional counselor/therapist in your area. Or, give us a call (417-335-5882 or 1-800-A FAMILY) and learn more about our Marriage Intensive programs. We here at FOTF’s National Institute of Marriage want to be a resource to you. Your marriage relational health and fitness is just as important as your physical health and fitness.

God Bless You in your efforts to have a great marriage. I hope you are making progress on your fitness goals too! Leave a comment on this blog, or suggestions about future blogs. Check out our website at nationalmarriage.com.

Dr. Bob Burbee
Licensed Psychologist, Intensive Therapist
Focus on the Family’s
National Institute of Marriage

7 Comments
  1. This resonates with me as a runner, but much more so as a husband and father. I have been the cause of and recipient of many emotional injuries through the years. I thought that time would heal them, but it did not. In fact some became much worse due to neglect. My wife and I recently participated in an Intensive Program. During that week we were able to get professional help for these wounds and have finally started the healing process. We both know it will be much slower than we would like, but by following a Christ centered treatment plan, a miracle is possible.

  2. “Major relationship wounds, like physical wounds, need attention, i.e. “treatment” and time to heal. Just as with a major physical injury adjustments in goals and expectations are needed, adjustments in goals and expectations are needed with relationship injuries. Patience, flexibility, generous amounts of forgiveness, grace and understanding go a long way to healing major relationship injuries.”

    To whom are you addressing this particular “call to action?” This would only apply if the abuser (the one doing the ‘major relationship wounding’ is actually taking accountability for his (or her) actions. Too often, as an emotional/verbal abuse overcomer, I see this type of “advice” and clearly the only person who you could be addressing here to be “patient, flexible, show generous amounts of forgiveness, grace and understanding” is the person who has been wounded. Why mix these actions up? The abuser needs to be patient, flexiclge, and show grace and understanding, but obviously they don’t need to forgive their victim. The victim on the other hand, needs it made clear that the onus of change is on the ABUSER and that she has already been, for years, patient, flexible, forgiving and showing grace and it has gotten her the same abuse or worse. You need to make it CLEAR that this response is for an abuse victim whose abuser has STOPPED abusing and is consistently and persistently repentant and is no longer abusing. Otherwise, it will simply be one more person telling the victim what SHE “can do” to make the abuse stop, which is counterproductive at best and dangerous to her health (and does nothing to help the abuser become the person God meant for them to be either) and the health of their children. Please give these victims PERMISSION to distance themselves! Believe me, they have spent far too much time already being “patient and loving and forgiving, etc.” which if you read about abuse, only feeds the dragon.You are taking to 2 people, who have played opposite roles in the wounding so please separate and be clear with your advice. I don’t see ANYTHING that is clearly being directed at the WOUNDER! Is only the wounded person reading your advice? That is the implication here. Once I stopped “doing what a “good Christian wife” should do” and studied the abuse cycle,tactics and entitlement mindset, I took immediate and concise action and separated. A year later, my husband is a new man. I did everything OPPOSITE of what Christan counselors/authors (who had 28 years of advice to give) and God gave me discernment and healing and as a bonus, a healed relationship. Abuse is about POWER, not “marriage trouble” and I am concerned that again, a well-meaning Chrhistan counselor is speaking the wrong words to the wrong person. Please stop worrying that you will OFFEND the abuser and be more concerned about help and healing for the abused.

    • Debby,
      I know it has been several months since you posted your comments. I regret not responding sooner. You make some excellent points. I would offer that my blog was aimed at individuals who have started a path of reconciliation. To your point that could have been clearer. I love your testimony of how firm boundaries and distancing from abuse can open a door for relationship change. We are deeply committed to the safety of the individual and I regret you didn’t see that perspective more prominently articulated in that blog about recovery from relationship injury. I hope other readers will appreciate your perspective as I have. Thanks for your comments.
      Blessings to You,
      Dr. Bob Burbee

  3. These last two articles on marriage & psychological disorders and on healing wounds were very much needed! Thank you!!!

  4. Dr. Burbee,

    I thought your analogy to your lower back pain was great.

    You wrote, “I really should have sought professional help sooner. I kept thinking the injury would resolve itself. Nine months of discomfort should be enough to convince me I need medical attention. I’ve often thought how many couples come to our Marriage Intensive programs having delayed attention to persistent relationship injuries which could have been cared for and set on a path of healing if couples had sought our assistance earlier.”

    Thanks for the illustration.

    Dr. Ken Newberger
    http://www.MarriageCounselingAlt.com
    Southwest Florida (Fort Myers – Naples)

  5. I thought was a interesting article when it comes to pain and injury. At times relationship wounds are the same as physical wounds.

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