How Grief almost ended my marriage
Almost four years ago, my husband and I were constantly fighting. The smallest things would end up being the biggest fight. We were exhausted from arguing, and our marriage was suffering. There was no affection, and we were struggling to remember why we fell I in love in the first place.
The often dreaded word “divorce” started to be a part of our conversations, or rather our arguments. After one particularly bad fight that I thought was the end of our marriage, I brought up therapy. I did not want our marriage to end after only a few years, but I also did not want to continue to be in a relationship where I was not happy.
I called my employee assistance program (EAP) through my job, and we were assigned a therapist to see for three sessions. I went into therapy thinking (or rather hoping) that the therapist would see my point of view and challenge my husband on the frustrations that I was vocalizing in our arguments to him. I thought she would take a look at the problems we were venting about and give us simple, easy tools to fix it. I was so wrong.
Therapy was not what I expected, but it was what I needed.
Instead, she opened a floodgate of emotions that I did not know that my husband and I were both holding within ourselves. Instead of addressing the problems I thought we were coming to counseling for, she dug into the root of the problem that was ruining our marriage-grief.
My husband and I had lost three children to miscarriages that year. Throughout that year, I had very visually struggled through the losses. My grief manifested itself in many somatic ways. I had lost the desire to be intimate, I had gained weight, I was slower to get things done, and I cried all the time. My husband, on the other hand, seemed unchanged. Our losses did not seem to impact him. And so I stopped talking to him about them and instead choose unhealthy coping mechanisms. Despite being a therapist myself and having a knowledge about grief, I could not see beyond my own pain.
After three sessions, we paid out of pocket and went back for more. Our therapist opened up emotional channels between my husband and me that I did not even know we had. She helped us work through our own individual grief and helped us find ways to support one another. I learned that my husband was deeply grieving the losses, but felt that he had to “be strong” for me. He learned that the strong façade he was putting up was hurting me and that I needed to see and be a part of his pain. We learned that most of our arguments stemmed from the fact that we had not processed our grief or the trauma together.
Though we still struggle at times, especially when our grief comes up unexpectedly, our therapy sessions truly helped us to see one another. We take it one day at a time now and have come to understand the importance of holding space for one another and talking about our grief. Grief almost ended our marriage, but in the end, processing our grief together helped us to save it.