Is Grief Taking a Toll on Your Marriage?
I will never forget one of our Heart to Heart Support Group members was struggling terribly for a long time after the loss of her Heart and Soul dog. Her life had become one great drama, filled with great rage and relentless sadness. One day she shared that she had said to her husband, crying: "I just want my dog back." Her husband looked at her straight in the eye and replied,"I just want my wife back." This is the kind of strain grief can put on a marriage.
Some of you are struggling in your marriages and relationships because of the grief that is weighing heavily between you. It hangs heavy like a wall that seems insurmountable. Your wife may not be able to focus on what is important to you. She seems scatterbrained because she doesn't know where to put all of her feelings that come from her grief. Hubby may not know how to process his wife's -- or even his own -- emotions over the loss of a beloved pet. Men and women tend to process emotions very differently and the emotions of grief run deep.
Remember there are typically five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. For many, these stages can be extreme. A husband may have discomfort in not knowing what to do for or say to his wife. Perhaps he is struggling too and he doesn't know how to talk about his own grief so he distances himself instead. She feels the distance and it perpetuates her anger or depression.
If this kind of behavior between you is taking place but is not typical, it is likely related to the loss at hand. By the way, for the husbands, most guys love Jack's book because he's a guy too and he writes it in such a way that they can process it quite easily. Jack will walk any reader through the stages of grief and out the other side. So if nothing else works, put our book in his hand! Most women gravitate to Jack because he's a guy that sets everything right. Jack puts everyone on the same page. Read it together. Read it to your kids. Leave it on your parent's coffee table. Do whatever you need to do to get on common ground.
Please tune into this short video (below) which discusses the difference between Men's Brains and Women's Brains by Mark Gungor. It's been around awhile but is quite funny and right on the mark. Most men and most women deal with grief very differently and if you are in a marriage or relationship that is currently strained, it's important to keep this in mind.
I also wish to add that I have addressed 'husbands' and 'wives' in this post and it seems all very traditional, but this applies to all relationships and partnerships between generations, men and women, same sex partners, siblings, parents and children of all ages. Everyone has a different way of handing stress so please keep your mind open, seek counseling if you need a little extra support --- and keep love at the forefront of everything you do.
Here's the video. I think there will be something in it that would make most people laugh, and laughter is still the best medicine of all.
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