How to be a Better Spouse in Times of Grief
Debbie Holloway is a storyteller, creator, critic, and advocate having adventures in Brooklyn, New York.More
- 2015 May 20
Justin and Trisha Davis overcame a journey of grief and loss that most marriages can’t survive: adultery. After years of miscommunication, coldness, lies, and drifting apart, an affair almost killed their relationship. But, clinging to God’s promises of forgiveness and redemption, they allowed their grief to change them for the better.
Intense grief hits every marriage in one way or another – there’s no escaping it. Just this past week, Trisha wrote a post on their blog entitled 5 Ways to Love Your Spouse Through Times of Transition and Grief, where she explains her recent depression over the death of her young niece, her son’s upcoming transition into college, and the family’s departure from their long-time church to plant a new church is another part of the state.
How can couples be sure to draw close to one another for comfort during these times, rather than drifting apart or withdrawing in silence? Trisha offers a few suggestions (Read the full list here!):
First, she says, understand that grief is a gift.
God designed us to grieve. Grieving is the process God has given to us, which, allows us to embrace the reality of what’s taking place in our lives. In order to find healing from the heartaches of life, such as the normal and natural transition of sending a child off to college or the more painful places such as a tragic death, it begins when we stop pretending and allow our hearts and minds to fully feel our loss. It is in the feeling we are able to begin grieving.
Crosswalk author Whitney Hopler agrees. In 5 Reasons Grief Can Be a Gift, she writes about grieving over the death of a loved one:
Yes, it’s [a gift] that we would all like to return if we could. But if we’re willing to open this gift that God gives us when our loved ones pass away, we’ll discover that it contains blessings in disguise…
Grief helps us value other people more as we miss the people we’ve loved who have died. Appreciating the people around us becomes easier when we see them through the lens of grief: as people made in God’s image, and as precious souls who are still present with us so we can still enjoy their company. Who hasn’t wished for more time with loved ones who have passed away? While we can’t be with people who have died until we get to heaven ourselves, we can be with people who are still alive and make the most of our time with them by building loving relationships.
Although grief is difficult, we really shouldn’t try to get over it. By viewing grief as a gift from our heavenly father and opening it more every day, we’ll encounter unexpected blessings.
It’s also crucial, Davis explains, to pray for your spouse during times of grief.
Prayer has been what has kept God in control and kept us out of the driver seat. Praying for your spouse allows you to find peace in the raw and keeps your eyes set on Jesus, who reminds you that your spouse isn’t the enemy. God created us to be fully known by God and by our spouse and prayer is the pathway to become completely known.
In addition to lifting up our griefs in prayer, we need to cultivate the ability to listen to each other without judging or advising. In 6 Ways to be a Good Friend in Times of Grief, Emily Maust Wood writes,
Nobody calls you at 3 a.m. for a pat answer. They’re calling to know that someone's out there, in their loss, with them.
For now, be okay with not having an answer. Further, be okay with not giving an answer even if you think you have one. Don’t tell them how they’re feeling; let them tell you. Sometimes we steer clear of a friend in crisis because we don’t know what to say, but unless their situation calls for immediate action, we can save our advice and anecdotes. No matter how stellar your stories might be, try letting them rest until another day and simply listen.
Grief looks different for every individual, every relationship, and every marriage. Sometimes couples have to struggle through times of intense loss (like miscarriage) or overwhelming frustration (like infertility). Where can we turn to for hope, when all seems lost in sorrow and pain?
In The Reality of Grief, Debbie McDaniel shares,
Sometimes the process is slow. Brutally slow. It takes time. And more time. More time often, than others are even comfortable with. And you find there's a constant, deep searing pain that doesn’t go away with nice words uttered by friends and a new day dawning. You feel lost and alone, fully aware that it's hard for those on the outskirts of the journey to fully "get it," or understand what you're processing.
Here's truth in it all. You're not alone. Ever. He whispers this to you today, as He holds your hand and dries your tears, never weary in sitting with you, close, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." Exodus 33:14
…You see, there's still life to be lived. A new life. And He promises to make things new.
Debbie Holloway is the Family Life Editor for Crosswalk.com.
Publication date: Mary 20, 2015