When you walk down the aisle and you repeat your vows – “in sickness and in health; for better or for worse” – you have no idea what that really means. Not until tragedy strikes. You may have witness a tragedy in your parents’ marriage or in your friends’ marriage, but it isn’t the same as going through it yourself.
The longer you are married, the more likely it is that you will experience multiple tragedies together. Whether it is the death of a parent, a child, job loss, loss of your home to fire or natural disaster, we all face tragedies. Those tragedies can either make you stronger or tear you apart.
Over the last 13+ years, my husband and I have been through several tragedies. Many of you know that my husband and I have suffered numerous miscarriages. While some of them were more difficult than others, our very first one and losing our sweet Isabelle were the most difficult for me.
We have also had our fair share of job losses. Just weeks after we found out we were expecting our second child, my husband was let go from his second job. Not long after we had our third child, he was let go from another second job. We began struggling not only financially, but intimately as well. He became depressed and distant and I was just trying to keep everything together, because I was still Mom and homeschooled our oldest.
It wasn’t until my Dad died suddenly that life seemed to spin completely out of control. I couldn’t focus. I had no drive or motivation to anything more than make sure the kids were fed and dressed. I felt like the world was falling in around me and I couldn’t breathe. I pulled away from my husband physically, emotionally and intimately. I was afraid of getting closer, because that only meant more heartache if he passed away before me.
A few months later, I began to experience severe pain and intestinal issues. Over the next 6 months, I found myself in the hospital 15 times, for an average of 4-5 days each time. My husband had to file for FMLA at work so he could stay home and care for our children. It was wonderful having him home, but our finances suffered once again.
Tomorrow is the 5th anniversary of my Dad’s death and in those five years, our family has changed so much. My youngest brother moved across the world to Okinawa with the Air Force, my middle brother and his family moved to Texas and we moved to Indiana for a ministry that ultimately ended in yet another job loss. Suddenly we found ourselves hundreds of miles away from family and no job, again.
While you can’t prevent tragedies from happening in your life, you can and should work through them together so they do not affect your marriage. Remember your vows, “for better or worse,” you both signed up for this and you’re in it together.
3 Ways to Overcome Tragedy Together
- Pray together. Whenever tragedy strikes in your marriage, pray together. Although you should be praying together anyway, make sure you take the time to pray about the tragedy and ask for God’s guidance and direction. Ask Him to bring you closer together physically, emotionally and intimately as you walk through the tragedy.
- Talk about it. I know it sounds trite, but you would be amazed how many couples stop communicating when a tragedy occurs. I understand the shutting down phase and needing some time, but do your best to talk through the tragedy when you can. If you feel those emotions creeping back in, talk to your spouse. Let them know what you need. They are there to help you in the good and the bad.
- Stay connected. Staying connected physically is just as important as talking. I know how difficult it is to be intimate with your spouse when you are dealing with grief and giving yourself time to grieve is important. However, intimacy is part of how you stay connected. You are married. You are united as one and you need to remain united in all aspects of marriage. If you pull away from your spouse in this area, it can bring in resentment and open the doors for other desires to creep in and take hold.
We live in a fallen world, so tragedy will happen. What matters is how you deal with it – together.
What are some ways you have overcome tragedy in your marriage?