**This is a creative article using a very popular season of Halloween to explore relatable issues in marriage. Please keep this in mind when reading.
Ghosts, are they real? Perhaps not in the stereotypical fashion we see on Halloween, but memories from the past can certainly haunt a marriage. I know this because I have seen these ghosts… in fact, on more than one occasion, I have been responsible for conjuring them up. With the fall season stirring up a spooky scene with spider webs, pumpkin faces and more, I want to discuss three common forms in which ghosts might be present in marriage as well as share my own personal ghost stories with you.
1. The Ghosts of People:
The memories of people from our past can, when not careful, become real ghosts in our marriage. The rattling chains of these memories might grab our attention in our Facebook newsfeed or a search for their name in our internet’s history. All technology aside, some days our thoughts may linger on someone with whom we were once close with. We can brush it off as a distant memory or excuse it by assuming we were merely reminiscing about an old friend, but could it possibly be a ghost from the past trying to wreak havoc in our marriage?
Since I am a blogger who writes primarily about my own weaknesses, I want to share with you my own battles with this particular ghost! Over my (soon to be) nine year marriage, we have been frequented by this ghost more than once.
While neither my husband or I currently have a personal Facebook account, when we did, I gladly accepted friend requests from his ex-girlfriends. My reason at the time was that I was so secure in our marriage that I didn’t care who viewed our pictures or read about our family. Yet, it was actually insecurity that led to my decision to allow these spooks into our sacred marriage. A few of these women were still single and I arrogantly presumed they were curious to stay in touch with Jason because they still had feelings for him. I pictured them waiting for an opportunity to tempt my husband (I should add this never happened – they were always very respectful). Over time, my imagination fixated on these women and I regularly pondered their thoughts towards my husband and our family, which quickly became my motivation to post certain photos or share romantic stories. I “needed’ them to know Jason had happily moved on (what I really needed was a life… ha). Three weeks after I deleted my Facebook account, I realized that having romantic interests from the past as “friends” was dangerous. I have since been wiser in my online activities, but there was no excuse for me to have invited those ghosts into my marriage. Period.
2. Possessed Places:
This category of specter can be quite difficult to keep at bay. While we can unfriend someone from a social media site; we can’t simply get rid of the coffee shop down the street that is a constant reminder of all the deep conversations that took place there with another man long before we married our husband. Driving down a street to get to a friend’s house might take us directly past his old place. Without being intentional at all, we can be put in a situation where memories can come flooding back.
Some places are haunted, but they do not have to remain so.
One of the best ways to protect your marriage from certain places of your past is simply to create new memories there with your husband. Take your husband to those “haunted houses” so that you can develop a new association with them. Four years in to our marriage, my husband took me to Nashville, Tennessee in order to give me a grand tour of the city where he lived during his college years. That vacation is significant to me because I was able to become a part of my husband’s past as he introduced me to his favorite parks, local hangouts, and old dorm rooms. On the last day of our trip, as we were sitting at his frequent study spot, he took my hand and expressed how glad he was that we had chosen Nashville as our destination. I remember clearly how cherished I felt as he said, “I am thankful to now have memories of the two of us on this campus…”
3. Old Wounds Still Haunt
This phantom is a hard one to combat because it can manifest in a plethora of ways. Words that were spoken to us in a moment of anger, our husband’s sin struggles, the betrayal of a friend, or a traumatic childhood event can cause us deep hurts in our heart that can come back to haunt us without any warning! The prompting of an old song or finding an old letter unleashes a wraith as we drift down memory lane. Other times, it can simply be the reality that we have a gaping wound that still needs proper attention in order to completely heal. Regardless of the venue these ghosts take, the truth is that they exist and we are always vulnerable to them!
I know, first hand, that old wounds can haunt even years later. In fact, almost daily, I battle with this spook! A personal strength (or weakness, depending on how you look at it) of mine is that I have a steel trap mind. I can recall, in freakishly accurate detail, events and conversations that took place over a decade ago. Imagine the predicament that puts my husband in when I allow my mind to wander to past hurts. While I say, “forgive and forget,” the truth is often times I allow my thoughts to spiral out of control. A sight, sound, or smell can trigger a memory from eons ago and instantly I am transported back in time where I relive the pain. Words, spoken to me many years prior, can haunt my marriage on any given day because I am not disciplined in taking my thoughts captive. When I feel these ghosts coming on, I have the choice to stop my thoughts and focus on the current moment, but more often than not, I grant the ghosts access to my mind and heart. In doing so, I usher in isolation and grief which ultimately breeds insecurity and wrongfully punishes my husband.
While my marriage isn’t 100% ghost free, I am striving harder each day to control my thoughts. Scripture is clear that we are to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). When I am faithful in applying that verse to my thoughts, the ghosts lose their power. For us as a couple, ridding our marriage of most forms of social media has been incredibly beneficial and certainly the number one ghost-buster!
You may be aware of the ghosts lurking around the dark corners of your heart or mind. You might feel their presence in your marriage through comparisons, the nursing of old wounds, or isolation. There is a chance they have haunted you through the techniques mentioned above, but it is quite possible that they have attached themselves to your marriage quite differently.
If you are allowing these “ghosts” into your marriage, I implore you to stop immediately. I wish I could take back the years of my marriage in which I wasted pursuing, flirting, and living with ghosts. Through their influences, I grew very insecure which negatively manifested in my marriage.
Do you consider your marriage such holy ground that you are not willing to permit even the tiniest threat in? This requires dedication, sacrifice, boundaries, accountability, and help from the Lord! We must never let our guard down! I do not believe any marriage is naturally phantom-free! It is a choice which requires constant upkeep. Be encouraged, on your quest, that you are not alone! The battles may be fierce, but protecting your marriage through high standards, focused thoughts, and intentional behaviors will shield what is most valuable to you!
What “ghosts” do you recognize are threatening your marriage?