“For richer for poorer, in sickness, and in health.”
On the happiest day of their lives, a beautiful couple make these vows in front of witnesses. The happiness is so magical even the witnesses can’t imagine that there will ever be the poorer and in sickness part. All in attendance pray that adversity will never show up in this marriage.
When adversity of any kind strikes, whether that be financial, health, or the loss of a child, the couple is now faced with honoring their vows. Severe adversity tends to intensify the kind of relationship a couple already had before adversity knocked on their door. A marriage already in trouble can flounder. It is in times like this the couple can become closer or move apart.
In the case of the loss of a child, even when grieving the same loss, the husband may grieve differently than the wife. One may be able to articulate how he/she feels, while the other may be the type to bottle emotions inside. A mother’s relationship with a child is nurturing. The father’s relationship tends to be more focused on hopes and dreams for the future of the child. Without the child, the mother has lost someone to nurture and the father must abandon his dreams.
Something that I have learned through this process is open communication is absolutely the most important part of healing as a couple. Learning how to listen to the other person’s feelings when they want to talk is part of that. One person may be having a good day and the other may need to talk about some deep emotions. Learning how to listen with empathy, validating the spouse’s feelings, and encouraging the spouse that you are always there for them is important. Making the commitment to heal together is key.
All who know our family know that we are a tennis family. Before any of you start trying to picture me playing tennis, I can stop you right now. I can’t run from one side of the court to the other without becoming winded much less hit a ball while doing it. When I say we are a tennis family, I mean we drove our four kids to tennis practices, matches, and tournaments from 1999-2015. They’re all good players but our son who passed away was the most passionate about tennis. He was working as a tennis coach when he passed away. He loved the game.
In Caity Weaver’s article “Why Does ‘Love’ Mean ‘Zero’ In Tennis?” (featured in Mental_Floss.com) she states, “The Oxford English Dictionary suggests that “Love” really does mean “Love”. The only thing keeping a scoreless player on the court is the “LOVE” of the game.”
I would like to think of this as an analogy for marriage and adversity. Sometimes the only thing keeping a couple together during the hard times is the commitment and the love that they have poured into the marriage. They have a mutual desire for the marriage to thrive.
A few weeks ago I was praying. I asked God to give me some words of comfort for my husband and me to hang onto. ” Tell me how Will is. Help me to imagine him in heaven.”, I prayed. The words that came into my head immediately were, ” Every ball he hits is down the line, in the corner, or a drop shot.”
Wow! God could have been verbose but in fifteen words He gave me a picture that was so vivid I could literally see my son. If you don’t know tennis, if every ball you hit is down the line, in the corner, or a drop shot, you are having a perfect game. It is the equivalent of getting strike after strike in bowling. I know what my son looked like on the court when he was playing a great game. Shoulders back, grinning, walking with a bounce in his step, energetic, happy and having the time of his life. For me to be able to imagine him in heaven having the time of his life for eternity was such a comforting image.
I immediately went to my husband and told him about my prayer and His answer. My husband’s eyes filled up with tears, the happy kind, and he said “thank you for sharing that”. What a gift God gave to me to share with my husband. It is through experiences like this that our bond is becoming even closer. I choose to believe that this is yet another gift that our son’s life is continuing to give to us.
Peace and Love.
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She writes about life, death, grief, and recovery.