Grieving Together, Differently

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A lot of writers keep journals. I’m not one of them. I haven’t kept one since junior high.

Well, with one exception.

It was the spring my husband Ted and I had to process our obstetrician’s words, “I’m sorry.” The spring when a new life within me unexpectedly died, rather than flourished.

I felt helpless. There was nothing I could do about it. So I bought a blue and white journal at Barnes and Nobles. And I wrote. And wrote. And wrote.

One aspect I wrote about was how Ted and I didn’t grieve in the same way or at the same pace. Just as we brought differences to the way we cooked, drove, and parented, we brought differences to our loss and the way we processed it.

It was hard to figure out how to grieve together when we grieved so differently. But we slowly – and often clumsily – navigated it. And, as we did, we continued to grow together, rather than allow the loss to tear us apart. How did we do this? One way was by allowing the other to grieve as they needed to, even if it wasn’t how we preferred.

If you and your husband are currently grieving differently and you’re frustrated or discouraged by it, here are three things to remember that helped us.

1. We’re Wired Differently

Not only do Ted and I have different personalities that influenced our response to loss, the simple fact that he’s a man and I’m a woman affected how we grieved.

In the midst of personal pain, it’s easy to forget that men and women aren’t just wired differently physically, but also mentally and emotionally. And, as frustrating as that can be at times, according to God, that’s a good thing. He didn’t design us to respond to everything identically.

When as a wife I realize and anticipate that Ted is by nature going to respond differently, sometimes even in ways I can’t comprehend, it prepares my heart to be more understanding. More patient. More gracious.

2. We Have Different Vantage Points

While Ted did mourn the death of our preborn baby Noah, he didn’t feel it as intensely as I did. Some of this had to do with his vantage point, or the position from which he experienced it.

I physically carried Noah those 10 weeks. As a result, I felt a deeper connection to her. Ted was more removed, especially that early in the pregnancy. My body also experienced the physical loss of her. Ted’s didn’t. His body wasn’t a constant reminder to him of death. These differences had a tremendous effect on the way we came through the loss of a baby.

3. Different Isn’t the Same as Alone

Even though Ted and I experienced grief differently, we still attempted to walk through it together. To confide in and listen to each other, even if we didn’t understand the way the other was wired or what things looked like from their vantage point. Remembering that our differences didn’t have to isolate us kept us united. We were still companions and confidants on what C.S. Lewis likened to a “long valley, a winding valley.”

It’s been four years since I wrote in that blue and white journal. Four years since Ted and I first discovered that we grieve differently. But you know what? Four years later our marriage is stronger not only because we managed to grow together through the grief, but because we gave each other space to mourn, differently.

Ashleigh
AshleighSlater.com

How The Environment May Be Hurting Your Marriage

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My husband and I could not wait to get married. Our hearts were anxious to fully express our love for each other and we looked forward to the day we would be united as one.

Our expectations of married life were shattered as we faced our first hardship as husband and wife on our wedding night. As we pursued sexual intimacy, pain inflamed my body. We tried to laugh off the disappointment, as if we needed time to figure out what we were trying to do and do it right. We both thought it might take a few days to get use to.

However, weeks turned into years, and we were still struggling. Our lack of sexual intimacy became a catalyst for bad attitudes, intensifying other marital stressors.

Over three years time my marriage broke down and we were on the verge of divorce. But God was not willing to abandon us! He saved our marriage from ruin and He showed us something quite incredible, something I believe everyone should be aware of.

One day my husband was inspired to think about the environment. A conversation with a friend of ours about a woman with PCOS sparked the investigation which you can read HERE. My husband wondered if there was something in the environment that was affecting my body and causing the pain I experienced during sex.

Sure enough my husband came across ingredients he found in my face wash – which I had been using for about five years - that were called “parabens” and after some internet research found them to be endocrine disruptors. He urged me to stop using this product and any other personal care products that had parabens, and within a weeks time my body was healed, our sexlife was healed!

I know this might sound crazy, but this discovery has radically impacted my life in a positive way. I cannot help but wonder how many other issues married couples are facing that can be attributed to the environment.

God built our bodies with an intelligent design. We have so many different parts working together to help us function properly. The enemy on the other hand, is working tirelessly to destroy what God has created. I believe over the years, he has used people to taint the environment in such a way, parts of it are affecting us in negative ways.

If you, your husband or even your children seem to be suffering because of a dysfunction in the body, and no one knows why, I urge you to take a closer look at the environment. Investigate what ingredients you are exposed to through putting something on your skin or what you are putting in your mouth. Pay attention to the details and consider how your body may be sensitive to certain ingredients.

I think it is extremely important for every person to understand how our bodies can be affected by our environment. You will be your greatest advocate!

I shared about this topic a few Mondays ago in an online marriage retreat that I would love to invite you to check out! If you are interested visit Embrace Your Marriage!

– Jennifer Smith

UnveiledWife.com

Messy Beautiful Love {giveaway}

Today my friend Darlene Schacht from Time Warp Wife is joining us. I absolutely love Darlene. She is such a genuine and true friend, seeking the Lord in all she does. I am thrilled she is sharing here today and giving away her brand new book, Messy Beautiful Love. In Messy Beautiful Love you will be captivated by her story and in awe of God’s grace and restoration in her marriage. ~Ruth Schwenk

Darlene writes:

“This earthly life is a battle,’ said Ma. ‘If it isn’t one thing to contend with, it’s another. It always has been so, and it always will be. The sooner you make up your mind to that, the better off you are, and more thankful for your pleasures.” –Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little Town on the Prairie p. 89-90

I think that a big part of the reason that so many people like myself have not only fallen in love with the Little House stories, but in particular the character of Caroline Ingalls was because of her gentleness and contentment. She’s an example to many. As a pioneer woman in the 1800s she struggled alongside her husband to make ends meet, and raise their five children. Not only did this woman make do with the little they had, she did it so gracefully.

Time and again they battled against the elements of nature, never knowing how their next crop would turn out, and when they did face trouble, she looked past it to thank God for their blessings.

Contentment requires us to trade personal and immediate gratification for a heightened sense of appreciation. That kind of faith can be difficult, but those who choose to “let go and let God,” possess a gem of great worth.

Are you a Caroline Ingalls, or a Negative Nellie? Do you tend to have more days than not when things get under your skin and you find yourself saying, “Why me?” We all know how it is; it seems like the minute that everything is going along great, it all starts falling apart.

Are you are Caroline Ingalls or a Negative Nellie?

And then there are other times when, like Job, you seem to have one trouble after another, and start to wonder if things will ever let up.

So how do we fix it? How can we make our world a better place so that we’ll be happy within it?

The answer is that we can’t and we shouldn’t expect to.

There will be days where you wake up on the wrong side of the bed and wish you could crawl back in. There will be people who disappoint you so badly that all you’re left with are the shattered pieces of your heart. There will be pain, there will be loss, and there will be tears. But God in His wisdom is good.

Joy comes from within, not without.

God is treating us as dear children, and like a true Father He disciplines us for our good. It’s never pleasant at the time, but with each trial we grow more disciplined. And we learn. The more that we take our focus off of the things of this world, we turn our hearts and our minds toward God.

When we run from our problems we don’t learn to solve them. But when we patiently trust God with our heart He leads us safely through to the other side. Not necessarily comfortably, but safely nonetheless.

I haven’t arrived yet. But then again none of us have. Marriage is a life-long journey that leads us to grow every step of the way. I’m still walking in faith, but my  focus is set on the Lord.

We can’t change the world around us completely, but we can change the way we relate to it so that while we’re riding the waves, we keep an even keel. All too often we have that reversed. We spend all of our energy focused on changing our surroundings so that we’ll feel better, happier, content, and relaxed–when the reality is that true long-lasting joy comes from within.

This article is an excerpt from Messy: Beautiful Love by Darlene Schacht. Used with permission from Nelson Books © 2014.

You are loved by an almighty God,

Darlene Schacht
The Time-Warp Wife

Today I am soooo thrilled to introduce you to Darlene’s brand new book, Messy Beautiful Love!!

We are giving away two copies along with two beautiful journals!! You can enter to win in the rafflecopter below!

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you want to grab a copy today you can click below:
Messy Beautiful Love: Hope and Redemption for Real-Life Marriages

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The {Thai) Breaker in Marriage

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When I said those four, small, life-changing words “I do, of course,” I knew there were things about me that would change. You know, things other than the obvious … like my last name and mailing address.

For example, I figured that I’d end up watching a whole lot more Fox News. Because … well … that’s what happens when one marries a news junkie and agrees to share the same couch and remote. Suddenly, talking heads and the latest conflict in the Middle East become regular company.

Even so, there was one thing I was absolutely, positively convinced without a doubt would not change. As in, ever.

And that was my feelings about Thai food.

Sure, I might be marrying a man who loved it, but no way was I becoming a green curry and drunken noodle addict. You see, I’d had my share of bad experiences with the cuisine.

All two of them.

The first was at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Van Nuys, California, with a woman my sisters and I had come to call our Jewish grandmother. Let’s just say the company was good, but the pad thai, well, I never thought I’d find my peanut-loving self wanting to hose the taste of nuts out of my mouth. I did that day … and for days after.

The second? It was a few years later at my boss’ mother’s dinner party on the Big Island of Hawaii. Yeah, complicated. I know. Granted, what I ate that evening was really more Japanese-Thai-Hawaiian fusion, but it ruined me for ever trying Thai food again. (My apologies to those of you who enjoy that trio of cuisines combined.) I determined once and for all that I didn’t like Thai food. Not then. Not ever.

Or so I thought. Almost a decade into marriage, I now eat … and crave … Thai food regularly. So what happened?

Well, because I love my husband Ted, I decided to share in his “joy” of Thai food by at least giving it another chance. Sure, it took me about six years of marriage to come to this decision, but I finally did. And you know what they say, the third time’s the charm, right? I discovered I loved it. Turns out I just needed to find a Thai restaurant that specialized in using quality, fresh ingredients, wasn’t too peanut happy, and didn’t involve the word “fusion.”

Do you know what this change has taught me?

It’s helped me learn the importance of stepping out of my comfort zone and being willing to try new things … even if I’m convinced I’m not going to like them. I’ve come to see that these experiences not only enrich me as an individual, they go far in helping Ted and me continue to grow together.

And the funny thing is, you could replace the phrase “Thai food” with a number of things. Sushi. Dystopian films. Some talk radio. There are a number of other areas where I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and discovered a new “like.”

So the next time your husband mentions the hole-in-the-wall restaurant he loves and you’d rather not try, maybe give it a chance. Even if it is a second or third one. What’s the worst thing that could happen? You discover you were right all along?

Whether you end up with a new favorite or not, I guarantee you’ll find your marital bond strengthened just because you decided to lay your own comfort aside and share in your husband’s joy.

I know because I’ve tried it.

Ashleigh
AshleighSlater.com and MarriageTogether.com

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For more practical ways to cultivate and strengthen unity in your marriage, check out my new book, Team Us: Marriage Together.

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