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April 17, 2020

Keeping a Marriage Alive amidst Crippling Grief.

Since this is about our marriage, yes, my husband has read this piece and is supportive of me sharing our story.

In my latest article, I discussed how my husband and I recently lost our newborn son. Since then, writing has been an outlet for my grief. We are trying to heal together, but it is a tough journey. We have managed to get by with dark humor, leaning on each other, and our friends and family. This is the road my husband and I find ourselves traveling during our grief journey.

After everything, we’ve been questioning our faith, so we immediately shut down when we come across religious-based methods of healing. This may change in the future, but right now that isn’t what I want guiding our healing.

So, what do I want to guide the healing and togetherness of my emotionally inept husband and my equally emotionally inept self?

I want logic and reason, with a dash of chaos.

I want a safe space, with an unsafe landing. I want my husband to be able to open up without feeling like he’s breaking me, and vice versa. He’s hurting just as much as I am through this life event. Not to mention that he’s had to do a lot to help me heal; things that I’ll never be able to thank him for as long as I breathe.

I want a place, a strategy, or something that we can call our own. Something that helps us heal when we are emotionally heavy. I want a way for my husband to know that he can lean on me, just as I have leaned on him. I need a way to show him that I can handle his emotions the way he’s handled mine. I need a way for him to know we don’t always have to tinker with projects to distract ourselves.

Some say, “Easy! Just go to therapy!” Or, “It’ll be no problem, just talk it out.”

Well, it might be easy if my husband and I weren’t emotionally inept. We aren’t the typical lovey-dovey, show our feelings, type of people. We deal with things behind closed doors.

My idea of a compliment is telling him he’s an idiot while he smiles at a Ghostbuster reference he made during dinner. His idea of a compliment is telling me how amazing I am at my job. Romantic, huh?

So how are two unromantic, not exactly religious, people working through this?

So far, we’ve found our non-religious, not so romantic (yet perfect) way to deal with our grief together: our nightly hug. This single hug is to connect and release any feelings we had during the day.

We created this nightly routine as a safe space for what we are feeling. I write and read while he tinkers with his projects, but the hug is where the money is.

In my mind, this deep embrace is replacing the time during of night where we would’ve offered advice to our son. We took that idea and made it a way for us to be together in a positive interaction. We hug, squeeze, and hold each other tight. Then, if we need to get stuff off our chest, we will.

We still occasionally have the yelling, and louder-than-normal tones, because we’ve let things build up or tried to hide feelings from one another. But, once we have had about 30 minutes or so, we do one last check-in hug before sleep. This is to make sure no feelings are still hurt—that all was heard by both parties so we can end the night peacefully and not bring negativity into the new day.

I’ll admit I was worried about our marriage in the initial stages of our grief, but our solid foundation before this horrible event has saved us. I honestly believe it is because we knew ourselves—our shortcomings as people, and in our relationship, before all this happened—that we will be able to survive this. Together, but even stronger.

If I have learned one thing from this experience it is that we must prioritize individual healing, but still work with our partner to overcome any kind of grief.

“Grief knits two hearts in closer bonds than happiness ever can; common sufferings are far stronger links than common joys.”~ Alphonse de Lamartine 

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