I’m excited to introduce you to my latest guest blogger—Rachel Lee—who’s talking today about recovering from a tragedy in her life and marriage. See her bio below for more on where to find her. And be sure to make her feel welcome by commenting and sharing this moving and meaningful post all around the web!
“We’re not going to make it.” I said aloud, through broken sobs.
I was both shocked and horrified by the words that had escaped my lips, that hopeless September day.
My husband and I believed in the sanctity of marriage. We took our commitment to our vows seriously—for better or for worse.
Who knew that our worse would come so soon.
Visions of my daughter’s lifeless body, held in the arms of the man I loved, as she took her final breath, played repeatedly in my mind.
Her sudden death wreaked havoc on our family.
The wreckage was massive.
My husband and I loved each other, but neither of us knew how to navigate loss of this magnitude.
Our ability to connect became a major hurdle in our marriage.
We behaved like living zombies— operating the daily tasks of family life, while simply going through the motions.
Devoid of intimacy or joy.
Tension was high, and morale was at an all time low.
It is no secret that many marriages fall apart after such circumstances.
[bctt tweet=”It is no secret that many marriages fall apart after such circumstances. Discover 5 powerful ways to navigate tragedy in marriage at Messy Marriage today! #lessonslearnedinmarriage #RachelLee” username=””]
Tragedy, trauma, loss and grief all have a way of shattering lives.
Desperate to see couples withstand, despite the circumstances, I’ve included a list of best practices to help marriages survive when tragedy strikes.
5 Best Practices to Survive a Tragedy in Marriage …
Very seldom do people grieve the same way.
My husband and I were polar opposites in the way that we coped.
- I found comfort in the presence of family. He preferred to be alone.
- I was more private with my emotions, reserving them only for the safety of those closest to me. He openly expressed emotion; often wearing it on his sleeve.
- I longed to talk about our daughter— both before and after her death. He found it too painful to relive.
- I chose to seek camaraderie in bereavement support groups. He gracefully declined.
The differences in how we grieved forced a wedge between us.
If we hadn’t taken the time to communicate our feelings, it’s uncertain whether our marriage would have survived.
It’s not uncommon for couples to initially feel a deep sense of closeness in the days following a tragedy, but that closeness often wanes with time.
Communication is key to overcoming tragedy in marriage successfully. Keep the lines open
[bctt tweet=”It’s not uncommon for couples to initially feel a deep sense of closeness in the days following a tragedy, but … Find out what is one key to overcoming tragedy in marriage.” username=””]
2. Guard Your Heart
In the wake of tragedy, it’s easy for a seed of discontentment to grow.
You may find yourself becoming resentful and bitter towards your mate.
You may despise the things they do, or don’t do, in the aftermath of loss.
You may even begin to feel like the grass is surely greener on the other side.
These are all normal responses to grief. However we mustn’t let these feelings determine our actions.
I distinctly remember feeling that my life would be so much easier if I could only escape.
I fantasized about running away daily, rationalizing that it would somehow help me to forget and move on.
I thank God everyday that He kept me from acting on those emotions that ultimately would have only added insult to injury.
Guard your heart from leading you astray.
Recall to memory the good.
Reflect on the love you shared in the beginning, recognizing the grass is equally as dry on the other side of the fence, for grief does not end simply because a marriage does.
Lean into each other– not away from.
3. Allow Space
A few, short months after our daughter’s passing, my husband announced that he was planning a week-long hunting trip.
A hunting trip? Now? Was he insane? Did he not care? How could he even THINK of hunting at a time like this?
Confusion, resentment, and accusation set in.
I couldn’t fathom leaving my family on the heels of such tragedy!
What I didn’t realize then, is that my husband desperately needed time alone to process.
Time to “feel” normal again, if only for a moment.
Time to talk with God.
Time to cry.
The woods were his sacred place. A place of healing.
It’s where he connected on a deep level, with the creator of the universe.
It’s where he went to feel alive when all around him reeked of death.
The Lord spoke these truths to my heart while he was away, and empowered me to receive him home with open arms, instead of with a bitter heart.
Ask the Lord for understanding when your mate creates space that feels like a personal assault on your heart.
Try to remember that they are hurting too.
Allow for space, but keep your heart softened and available for when your spouse needs a safe place to land.
4. Seek Counsel
It’s unfortunate that some Christians adamantly oppose receiving professional help, as though it makes our faith appear weak.
Having a personal relationship with the Lord does not render us immune to tragedy.
Seeking professional counseling was one of the best decisions I made for myself. But it’s a decision that cannot be forced.
Each person has to decide for themselves, if and when, they are ready.
I began receiving counseling 3 years into my grief journey. My husband waited 10.
There’s no right or wrong response. Each individual journey is unique.
Although we learned early on, the importance of communication, there were certain things that were just too painful for us to talk about together.
Hence, why having a third party available, became a lifeline.
The ability to openly express my deepest emotions, concerns, questions, thoughts, fears, and anger, was healing.
However, it’s important to seek out a professional, or at the very least, someone of the same sex.
Nothing makes a marriage more vulnerable to attack than when our guard is down and our emotions are raw.
Counseling may not be for everyone, but I strongly recommend that everyone at least remain open.
Who knows if it won’t be the best decision you’ll ever make for yourself AND your marriage.
5. Pray Together
Nothing helps to build intimacy in a marriage more than the act of praying together.
Praying with your spouse, if you haven’t done so before, can feel awkward at first, but that awkwardness will quickly wane as you continue.
Prayer is a window into the soul.
When we spend time praying together, it helps us to see our spouse and their heart with fresh perspective.
This alone can prove to be healing.
[bctt tweet=”Prayer reinforces the connection between partners, thus strengthening the bond of marriage. Especially in the wake of tragedy. Pray hard. Pray together. #prayerconnects” username=””]
Be intentional about praying with your spouse, even when you don’t feel like it.
The risk of not doing so, is much too high.
Although unpleasant to think about, the harrowing truth is that if we live long enough, tragedy will eventually find us all.
We live in a broken world. But not one without hope!
It will take effort, but your marriage CAN survive the aftermath of tragedy.
Rachel is married to her best friend of 21 years, and is the mother to their 8 children. Their family makes their home in the beautiful PNW. Some of her loves include a good book, a hot cup of coffee, exploring the outdoors, spending time with family, and all things turquoise. Rachel writes at Be Thee Inspired, where her aim is to passionately pursue Jesus and help to inspire others along the way. Follow Rachel here: Instagram | Pinterest | Facebook | Twitter
What tragedies have rocked your marriage?
Is there another helpful way to deal with tragedy that you would add to Rachel’s list above?
Click on the link for more posts in this Lessons Learned in Marriage series. Also check out the graphic below to see what other bloggers will be sharing in this series. Yours truly (Beth) will be sharing next week on the lessons I learned regarding forgiveness in marriage. I hope you’ll stop back by!
Here are some lovely linkups I join – Inspire Me Monday, Literary Musing Mondays, Tea and Word Tuesday, Purposeful Faith, Tell His Story, Recharge Wednesday, Porch Stories Linkup, Break Through Homeschooling Linkup, Coffee for Your Heart, Worth Beyond Rubies Wednesday, Encouraging Word Wednesday, Sitting Among Friends, Destination Inspiration, Grace Moments Linkup, Imparting Grace, Tune in Thursday, Heart Encouragement, Moments of Hope, Grace and Truth, Faith and Friends, Blogger Voices Network, Faith on Fire Friday, Fresh Market Friday, and DanceWithJesusFriday
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