Monday, October 10, 2011

I might be allergic to you.

Our immune system has the capacity to operate as an overzealous soldier ready to serve in any battle. The medical dictionary defines an allergy as “an exaggerated immune response to substances that are generally not harmful.” A healthy immune system protects the body from harmful substances such as viruses and bacteria. However, it also reacts to foreign substances called allergens. Allergens are harmless unless a person has allergies. A person suffering from allergies has an oversensitive reaction which manifests in an array of unpleasant symptoms. Examples of symptoms include sneezing fits, rashes, and itchy red eyes.

In marriage, a partner can develop an "allergy" or an over-reaction to a topic or event in effort to avoid pain. Due to past hurts, our psyche will shift into overdrive when recognizing familiar "allergens" that have inflicted pain in the past. Like an overly ambitious immune system, we erect our walls of defense, preemptively hurling aggressions before our partner can do the same.
It is important to reveal these seemingly elusive triggers that can quickly erupt into an ugly rash of arguments. Consider this scenario. A wife becomes inordinately upset when her husband does not promptly return her call. She leaves several messages, each one more intense than the one before. The husband has left his phone in the car, and by the time he calls her back, she is a fountain of tears. However, all the bewildered husband hears is an endless stream of irrational questions. What he doesn't realize is the she has a "trust allergy." Her past boyfriend cheated repeatedly, and she is on guard at the slightest sign that could point to infidelity.Without prior knowledge of this trust allergy, the husband feels that he is being wrongfully attacked, and subconsciously starts to act distant towards his wife. The overly alert wife starts to sense withdrawal from her husband, which in her mind confirms her suspicions of unfaithfulness.
What is very interesting is a physical allergy is something that is perceived as concrete, and therefore the treatment is clear-cut. An individual who suffers from a peanut allergy must be administered a shot of epinephrine in order for the symptoms to start reversing. However, emotional allergies are often viewed as somewhat nebulous. If not recognized early on, confusion will settle it on both sides. Of course the "shot of epinephrine" is to quickly inject an ample dose of unconditional love and grace. This treatment will almost always ease the severity of the symptoms.
In the example about the wife with the trust allergy, the husband is confused because he has not factored in the existence of this allergy. He is looking merely at the false accusations or symptoms that have manifested. This would be as irrational as staring at someone with a peanut allergy whose lips have swollen up to twice the size, and saying, "Your lips should not be that large. Look in the mirror. They look hideous. Make them shrink now."
The enemy will try to hinder unity and healing by confusion. The moment you realize that your words have the power to inject a life-giving substance in your spouse is when you will see a turning point. It may not be a natural reaction, but it is sure to have supernatural results.
It is amazing that certain physical allergies will develop spontaneously and then clear up over time. If your husband or wife suffers from emotional allergies, remember that it is the Holy Spirit's role to heal, your job is to love.