I'm away on vacation, so this is a scheduled post. So I thought I'd make it easy on myself, and reprint an article I wrote a while ago on what happens to a marriage when things go wrong with your kids.
It first appeared in Christian Home & School back in 2002, and here is part of it:
Twenty-two weeks into my second pregnancy, my husband Keith and I were devastated to learn that the little boy I was carrying had a serious heart defect. In the midst of our turmoil, one specialist grimly remarked, "I should warn you that half of all couples in this situation separate within a year."
Thankfully, we were able to lean on each other during this most difficult time in our marriage, allowing us to grow closer, even as we watched Christopher slip away.
In all likelihood you won’t have to endure the death of one of your children, but you may suffer other heartbreaks that can take their toll on your marriage. Maybe one of your children has been injured. Maybe you have an uncontrollable four-year-old, or a teenager who is constantly threatening to run away. Even so-called "normal" children can cause stress with their constant demands.
It’s hardly surprising that children add tension to a marriage. They encapsulate our identity, our dreams, and our futures. When something goes wrong with our kids, we feel like our whole world is falling apart. A strong marriage can provide a cushion through these challenges, but a marriage that is floundering only compounds grief.
Doreen Tomlin, whose 16-year-old son John was killed in the Columbine massacre, told Christianity Today that as soon as she believed he was dead, she began to pray, "Let it not ruin our marriage." To ensure that your marriage withstands whatever pressure it may face, try to nurture it in the following four ways:
1. Forgive Yourself
Guilt and parenthood seem to go hand in hand. We feel guilty for things over which we have no control, and we repeatedly kick ourselves for things we feel we should have handled better. Yet self-recrimination can cause us to build walls of silence around ourselves, isolating us from the love we so desperately need.
If your child’s problem can be traced back to your sin, remember that no matter how serious your error, Jesus has already paid for it. You do not have to keep punishing yourself for something that Jesus has already erased.
More often that not, though, our feelings of guilt have nothing to do with actual sin. In Always, a book of inspirational stories of marriage, Betsy Holt and Mike Yorkey relate the story of Rick and Laurie, who lost their infant son to SIDS. Laurie felt she was to blame for not ministering CPR correctly, and, overwhelmed by guilt, she cut herself off from Rick and everyone who loved her. Once she realized how hurtful she was being, she opened up. Simply voicing her guilt helped to alleviate it, and with her husband’s support she forgave herself. They were then free to deal with their grief together.
In a similar way, though I knew I could not be labeled "guilty" for my son’s health problems, I was nonetheless tortured as I watched him grow weaker and was unable to help. My husband Keith felt this guilt even more acutely, because as a pediatrician
himself he felt he should have been able to cure him. Voicing these feelings seems to put them in perspective and minimize their ability to throw us into despair.
If you’ve ever experienced anything similar, you probably have also been consumed with questions like "Why me? Why my child? Why am I being punished?" You may wonder what you did to cause God to hurt your children like this. I vividly remember the day I heard my minister say, "When we ask ‘why me’, we are placing ourselves at the center of the universe rather than God."
Suddenly it occurred to me that maybe Christopher’s illness had nothing to do with my own relationship with God. He was not necessarily putting Christopher through this to punish me, test me or teach me. Perhaps He was just choosing to use me to accomplish His plans. The realization was tremendously freeing. God is ultimately in control. It is He who allowed this to happen, not you. And even if you never understand why in this lifetime, God trusts you with this burden and He will always help you to carry it.
You can read the rest here.
What about you? Do you have any marriage advice for us? I can't post a Mr. Linky because I'm scheduling this post, and I haven't figured out how to do that yet! But leave your link in the comments, and we'll check it out!
If you're going through a hard time, my book, How Big Is Your Umbrella: Weathering the Storms of Life, can help. It's a short book detailing what we yell at God when life stinks, and what He whispers back. Find out more here.
Or, if you prefer to listen, why not purchase a download or a CD of my talks, Extreme Makeover, which deal with a similar subject!
Labels: books, grief, wifey wednesdays