mort-fertel.jpgby Mort Fertel

Get a glass of water. Really! Don’t just read on; first get a glass of water.

Got it? Okay. Now, hold the glass of water in your hand and pick it up.

Are you holding it up? Now let me ask you this: How heavy is the glass of water? What do you think it weighs? 1 pound? 2 pounds? Less than a pound?

Keep holding the glass up. Don’t put it down yet. What do you think it weighs?

As you continue to hold the glass of water, you’ll notice that its real weight doesn’t matter as much as how long you hold it. The longer you hold the glass of water, the heavier it feels, right?

If you hold the glass of water for minute, it’s not a problem. It’s not heavy. But if you hold the glass of water for an hour,
your arm might start to ache. Eventually the glass of water will feel like a ton of bricks. The weight of the glass of water is always the same. But the longer you hold it up, the heavier it gets.

That’s the way it works in your marriage too. Things are bound to happen between you and your spouse that will weigh heavy on you and your spouse’s heart. But the longer you “hold them in,” the heavier the burdens gets. I can’t tell you how many times I’ll discover in private sessions that the source of someone’s anger or bitterness is something that happened 15

“Did you ever discuss what happened with your spouse,” I’ll ask.


In an effort to make sure I understand I’ll ask, “You never talked it through? You never processed with your spouse at all?”


Rhetorically I’ll ask, “This has been building up inside you for 15 YEARS and you never said anything?!”

“That’s right,” is the response.

Do you hear that? It happened 15 YEARS AGO! And it still plagues them TODAY. In fact, as I illustrated above, the burden gets worse not better.

But do you know what always amazes me? The burden gets worse for the person who’s holding it in. But their spouse forgot about the incident 15 years ago. They’re clueless that the pain even exists. They would be SHOCKED to learn that their
spouse still remembers what happened no less that it pains them and remains in their heart.

Do you know what’s bothering your spouse? Do you know the root of their frustration? Do you know what they just can’t let
go of? And most importantly, do you know how to draw it out and how to help them finally heal?

Most people have something that continues to bother them, something that happened years ago that they never let go of, something that they never “moved through” with their spouse. And there it sits; getting heavier and heavier as the
years go by. Until finally it comes out as, “I’m not happy” or “I want a divorce” or “I don’t love you anymore.”

Old wounds that don’t get treated aren’t really old; they remain fresh. They’re still open sores that eat away at your marriage from the inside without you even knowing it.

From Sarah – I’ve talked with Mort by phone, his personal story is both heartbreaking and triumphant, and the way he healed his own marriage helps everyone who’s coached by him – I’ve referred women to him who were able to turn their situations around – even after their husband’s had LEFT the home…you can get Mort’s free newsletters here->


  1. Heidi on August 12, 2009 at 8:16 am

    Excellent article. I cannot put this into the context of marriage because I have never been married, but I can tell you that I have felt the burden of past marital problems from dating men who have been divorced. Many men continue to carry their anger or bitterness into other relationships and it only compounds the problems that can occur within a new relationship. There’s no room for constructive talk. When I first date a man that has been divorced, I will often ask if he and his ex tried to save the marriage through counseling. If they have, I have a lot more respect for him because he cared enough to make it work. It’s not easy for a man to open himself up and reveal what is bothering him. If he has made the effort to try to save his marriage, he’s worth getting to know better.

  2. Editor on August 19, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    Heidi, Thank you for your comment, and that’s just a brilliant idea – to ask if he’s ever been willing to “work” on things…I’ll remember that, Sarah

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