There are a lot of things that can come into a marriage that can have a real affect on the health of the relationship. We think about financial issues, infidelity and growing apart, but another area that we can’t really control can leave a huge strain on even the healthiest relationships and that’s grief.
I have been married for about 9 years now and in that time, my husband and I have weathered the storm through 12 miscarriages. Grief and loss can have a huge impact on a marriage and whether that’s through perinatal grief, the death of a child, friend, or family member. A study conducted in 1999 titled “When a Child Dies” by The Compassionate Friends organization showed that while 72% of marriages survive the death of a child, a marriage never really is the same.
Each marriage is different, as is each situation so it’s important to evaluate what each of you need for your situation. Here are 10 ways you can help protect your marriage through loss and grief:
10 Ways to Protect Your Marriage Through Loss and Grief 1 of 11
My husband and I have been through a lot together and if you're marriage has been hit with grief and loss, there are some ways you can help protect your marriage.
Acknowledge You Both Grieve Differently 2 of 11
If your loss has affected both of you, like perinatal grief or the death of a child, you need to acknowledge that you both grief differently. Perhaps your partner is crying a lot and you're not. Maybe you seek their affection and they're drawing away. No one grieves the same -- even with the same situation and the sooner you realize it, the healthier your grief will be.
Open The Communication 3 of 11
You need to speak to your partner about your feelings, and they should do the same with you. Don't assume they don't want to talk about it or that you will hurt them more if you bring it up.
Don’t Try to Protect Your Partner From Your Feelings 4 of 11
One of the worse things I believe you can do for your grief is to pretend it's not there. Don't put on a face of happy to protect your partner's feelings. Pretending it's not there is not going to make it easier for either of you.
Seek Individual Counseling 5 of 11
Finding someone who is experienced in your particular grief and seeking individual counseling can give you a safe space to share all your feelings without needing to worry about hurting your partner more. You can learn ways to help walk you through the grief and the harder times.
Seek Couple’s Counseling 6 of 11
If you're both grieving at the same time, consider going to couple's counseling as well. You will learn how to communicate with each other and have a safe space to share what you're really feeling. It can help open those lines of communication and help you work through it together.
Remind Each Other It’s Ok to Smile 7 of 11
There will be times in your grieving that something still makes you smile, and it's not uncommon to feel guilty about being momentarily happy. Remind each other -- but don't push each other -- that those moments are healthy, ok and not something you should ever feel bad about.
Don’t Place Blame 8 of 11
Blame is like a plague that can enter a marriage after loss -- especially when it comes to perinatal loss (miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death) and the death of a child. Not only should you not blame your partner, but it's important to not blame yourself either. If you find this creeping into your marriage, seek counseling.
Turn To Each Other, Not Away 9 of 11
One of the main things I've found that helps a person walk through the grief is to talk about it. If you're grieving, turn to your partner -- even if they're grieving too, and don't seek that emotional support without including them. They want to help you and turning to each other (as well as others) can help strengthen your bond.
Acknowledge You Both Need Extra Care and Time 10 of 11
Grieving is hard work. It leaves you tired, confused and realizing and acknowledge you both need a little extra care and time can go a long way. Realize that emotions may be short, crying may or may not happen and try not to sweat the small things during grief.
Treat Your Partner Like You Would a Friend 11 of 11
If you're best friend was grieving or another family member, chances are you will be treating them with the care and respect needed. Don't forget to treat your partner the same way, with the same love and care.
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