We have all been through it. We are sitting there at a wedding, the bride beautifully glides her way down the aisle, the groom smiling ear to ear. They get to the alter and without a fail, the brides second cousin who isn’t close enough to her to be a bridesmaid but close enough to be a part of the wedding stands up and reads it,1 Corinthians. It is like a right of passage at pretty much any wedding, you can feel the entire room sigh as a whole and the bride sitting there smiling like this verse speaks to her and her idea was just so amazing and original.
Once the verse is done, they turn to each other and the pastor begins the vows. It seems these days most couples are starting with writing their own, I know my husband and I did, but regardless usually the pastor then finishes up with the traditional wedding vows, the bride and groom fumble through their “I Do” they kiss, and so begins the journey of happily ever after, until it’s not.
We are all pretty familiar with wedding vows, and the ones that we are going to focus on during this post is “For better or worse”. When you are young and in love it is something you say, and it is something you feel, but it is really not something that you think about. For worse? What could possibly go wrong? We are young, we are in love, the world is our oyster and we are going to be together forever!
It all seems nice, but what happens when it is not? What happens when life gets hard? What happens when plans don’t work out? When the unthinkable happens? When tragedy hits? How do you love through that? It is easy to read a verse about love, it is easy to vow your undying love to someone, it is all easy, when life is easy, but it is not so easy when life’s road takes a sharp right even though it wasn’t on your map.
My husband and I are no strangers to life’s sharp turns, he has lost a lot in his life and I have lived a full life at a very young age. So when we lost Nico we were both devastated, but we also kind of used our past experiences to get through it together. To say it was easy would be a straight out lie. There was anger at the situation, which we took out on each other some days. There was lack of communication, that we really had to work on. There were so many emotions that we had to just get through, we had to get through them on our own, and together. It was really a true testament to who we were as a couple, and we made it through. It was not easy, but we did it. To this day we take those hard days and apply them to our everyday, and it is pretty much a staple in our marriage.
Back to 1st Corinthians, we have this huge wood piece hanging in our dining room that my mom gifted us a few years ago. It is actually one of my most favorite pieces in our home, the other day I was just sitting and reflecting on the past few years. 2020 will do that to you, with all the time we have on our hands, it has been a really great time to sit and reflect. I was thinking about when we first lost Nico. Our pastor came over to talk and see how we were doing and he was in complete disbelief. We were laughing at the dining room table together, the other kids were happy as can be, we were sad, but there was still joy. He kept saying, when he visits families who have just lost a child the entire home is dark, the mom is usually in the bedroom laying down, the children are sad and confused, the father, usually drunk. He actually asked us what is going on, and my husband simply replied “We are sad, we are grieving, but life isn’t over, we can’t just waste it” and I feel that is kind of the attitude him and I both had, even before we met, which is why we work. But, the entire time the pastor was over, I was staring at this large wood sign, that is telling me how to love in God’s eyes. It all really became clear and relevant on how to love through a tragedy. How to pick up the pieces and apply something when things get hard, when things get bad.
It doesn’t have to be something as major as what Dom and I went through. It could be something in the current world such as loss of a job, loss of a business, loss of a home. It could be a miscarriage, it could be infertility issues, it could be substance abuse, it could be health issues, it could be loss of a parent, or close family member. The list goes on, but let’s talk about how to apply the verse, to your relationship during those trying times. Because, even if life seems like it could be unfazed at the moment, it doesn’t mean it will always be that way.
If you are not familiar with this verse, it is okay, it is going to be written out as we go! So the actual verse is 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 if you would like to read what led up to this, and the story behind it.
Is Patient– Are you being patient with your spouses grieving process? Even if you two are extremely in love, you are still not the same person. Everyone grieves a different way, and some take longer to process those emotions, while some get over things more quickly. You have to be patient and allow the other person to process through things on their own. You can not force your feelings onto them, or tell them that their feelings are invalid because you are not at that point. It is unfair and will only cause a heap of resentment. When the days passed and life started to get back to normal after Nico, Dom and I would, and still do, have what we call “A bad Nico day” This is our keyword for letting the other person know to be a little more patient with you that day.
Is Kind- Are you being kind not only to them, but to yourself? When someone is grieving anger is probably one of the most raw emotions that come from it. Anger at the situation is okay, and it is completely healthy, what is not healthy is taking that anger out on the person who is there to support you. You also need to make sure you are also being kind to yourself. To fully understand that you can not be a supportive spouse if you are not allowing yourself the same grace. It is okay to be angry, it is okay to cry, it is okay to scream at the world, but do all of those things with a positive intent. Never blame the other person, or say things you will regret later. That is one quick way to bring more resentment into the relationship, and break the bond that is keeping you two together during this time.
Does Not Envy- This one is hard because the saying “the grass is always greener on the other side” is a very real emotion when you are going through something traumatic. It is so hard to not look at other couples who are happily announcing a pregnancy when you have been trying for years. It is so hard not to look at people complaining how hard it is parenting a toddler, when you just lost a child and wish anything in the world to be able to complain. These are all okay things to feel. I actually had to delete my social media for months after we lost Nico because I actually had over 10 friends who had little ones who were born within days of Nico. So every time I logged on I got hit with this sense of missing out and I really started to envy these other people and their perfect lives. This turned negative though, the jealousy I was feeling in my heart was sabotaging a healthy relationship with Dom, because the jealousy spread. I was thinking because I was not good enough, he would think someone else was. Which I think about now and just laugh because Dom would never do anything like that, but then, I had let envy enter every part of my brain. You can not envy another persons life, because even though it looks like everything is great, once you get to the other side you realize the grass was spray painted and it is actually dead. Take a breath and know what you have going on right now is exactly the way it is supposed to be, and wishing for another persons life will make you miss the life that is already in front of you.
Does Not Boast- This is something that can be hard for couples who are very self confident. Dominic and I are both very confident people and both very outgoing people, more him then me, but we are pretty equal in the social aspects. The problem with this though is that we tend to forget “being sensitive to the others” needs when we are on a confident high. There were days when he was “having a hard Nico day” but I was doing fine that way, and it was kind of like I was throwing my happiness into his face, and vice versa to him on my hard days. This took a lot of talking and a lot of understanding of each other. Do not get me wrong on this one, it is definitely okay to be happy on days you are feeling better, but do not brag about it if you are noticing your partner is not exactly there yet. Allow them to have a sad day and allow yourself to have happy ones, but be sensitive to which day is which.
Is Not Proud– This one kind of co-insides with love does not boast. It is okay to be proud but you need to always remember what you are feeling and what they are feeling may be similar, but it is not the same. Grief hits everyone different, and it hits at very different times. There are days I am totally okay and happy and living my best life, and boom a song comes on in the car, and now I’m bawling my eyes out in a Walmart parking lot. It hits fast, but sometimes it creeps in on you. It is okay to be proud of yourself, and to be proud of the healing you have accomplished, but also make sure you are not taking away all the spotlight from them if their progress is not at the same level as yours.
Does Not Dishonor Others- This one obviously could touch base on infidelity but I am going to go a different route that more pertains to grief and dealing with a tragedy. This is going to go more along the lines of gossiping or mocking them behind their backs. If your spouse is having a really hard week, and you had a dinner party planned at your best friends house that you were really looking forward to, and they just are not emotionally up for it, and ask you to cancel, so you call your friends and start complaining and talking bad about your spouses feelings. You are dishonoring the process. You are dishonoring the fact that they are just not mentally ready to handle something, and just because you are does not mean that you should be so insensitive to this that you openly mock them. You are their person, and you need to be the number one person they go to and they can trust. When you start dishonoring that, you are putting a invisible wall in between you two, and the more you break the trust, the higher the wall is built until one day you wake up and you are completely shut out.
Is Not Self Seeking- Just because you are grieving a certain way (as I have mentioned above) does not mean that your spouse is grieving the exact same way. Do not be selfish in your journey and do not expect them to have the same journey. Remember love is a selfless act, and to be in a strong relationship and a healthy relationship you need to allow your spouse to be who they are, just as they allow you to be who you are. Just because you are grieving and your world is falling a part around you, does not mean it isn’t falling a part around them too. You need to be there for them just as much as they are there for you. Some days that might be a 90/10 ratio, others a 50/50, regardless of what it is you need to make sure you are upholding your end.
Keep No Record Of Wrong- When you are experiencing trauma and tragedy it is very easy to keep a mental list on “who did what” and “who didn’t do what”. I can not tell you how many times I have replayed Nico’s last moments in my head, probably millions. The last kisses to his cheeks and way he smelt are all deeply engraved into my core memories that even if I loose my mind, I am pretty sure that day will still be there. Not one time, through all of it though have I ever blamed Dominic for how he handled things through all of it. It would be the most toxic thing you could do in your marriage to blame your spouse for the death of your child, or the handling of things, or the not handling of things. There is no right or wrong way to handle something when you are faced with the unimaginable, and keeping records of “wrong” during it is going to turn into a very fast track to divorce. Allow yourself to forgive, and allow yourself to be forgiven. Give yourself grace during that time, but also give your spouse grace.
Does Not Delight In Evil- So the full scripture of this one is Does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth. What they are trying to say in this is love is pure, and it is not meant to sweep sin under the rug. This could go to infidelity, to just a simple lie of “Why yes honey, that dress does look amazing on you”. When it comes to grief though, it can mean something completely different. You can not fully love someone unless you are fully truthful with not only them, but with yourself. Keeping feelings, especially dark ones, away from your spouse during difficult times is “delighting in evil”. You are refusing to be truthful with them on how things are going, and this is very dangerous in getting through things together. You need to be truthful, open, and understanding. It will help them also be truthful and not feel like they have to hide they are having a really hard time from you. It opens up the communication gates, and allows both you and them feel like you are on the same team through this, which is the most important things.
Rejoices In Truth- This goes with the above topic. Be truthful how you are feeling, be truthful who you are confiding in, be truthful if these feelings are getting out of control, or dark. Be open with your spouse. There were a few times that I caught my mind wondering to a very dark place right after we lost Nico, and I immediately knew I needed to talk to my husband about this, because not only do I want him to be aware and just watchful to ensure it didn’t turn into something serious, but also because he is my best friend, and the first one who knows how to cheer me up. It goes both ways, there were some really hard days he was going through, especially the first Father’s day, so when he was truthful with me that it was going to be really rough, I did everything in my power to make sure it was the best day ever. Full of laughter, full of tears, and full of love.
Always Protects- If there is one thing that I know about Dom is that he will protect his family at all costs. But, you also need to ensure you are protecting each other emotionally. Usually in relationships there is one person who is more of the “protector” and the other is more of the “protected”. It is just basic relationship dynamics. Dom is our protector, but I also make sure to protect in other ways. During hard times you can not be the only one who paints themselves as the victim, and your significant other is always having to save you. There are going to be time periods or days where you actually are going to need to swoop in and be their hero too. Do not be selfish in that area, make sure that you are always open and ready to be the protector even if it is not your normal role.
Always Trusts- This kind of goes with what I was saying about does not envy. You need to make sure regardless of what is happening in your relationship during hard times that you still trust your partner. Now, that does not mean that you can just go blind with love and not notice if something weird is going on. But, it does mean that trusting them and trusting the process of grief will help you through it. When you are dealing with grief, tragedy, hard moments, you need to just trust the process of who you, and how they, deal with it all. It is hard some days, as I mentioned before I tend to get jealous when I am feeling less then. Dominic knows this about me though so he always goes the extra mile on those days to show me that there is no reason not to trust him. If you do not have trust in your relationship, it is actually time to take a breath, and look at the big picture, it is not going to work out. That is final. You can re-build trust, but it takes a very long time, and it is a very time consuming process.
Always Hopes- Hope, what a beautiful word. There is always so much hope during hard times. Will the positive pregnancy test be this month? Will they pull through this? Will this job interview change our world. Hope, it is what keeps us going even on the most hard days in life. If you do not have hope, it is very hard to move through things. We had so much hope when Nico was sick. We hoped he would make it, he would come home, he would maybe be in medical home care, but he would be home. When he passed away it felt like all of those prayers and all of that hope was in vain. It was actually when I lost hope is when my grief process got hard. It wasn’t until we found out we were pregnant again that the hope in me really started to come back. This time it was pretty much the same prayers, and the best part of it all is that Dom had the same hope. We were hand in hand through the death of one son, and the birth of another. It was the hope that really added that twinkle back to our eyes, and the pep back into our relationship. You need to hope together, you need to have that bond to be able to get through life’s bumps.
Always Preserves- This one pretty much speaks for itself. If you are going through something hard, if you are grieving, if you are going through a unimaginable situation and you feel like you are just lost, remember that love always preserves over the hate. That you will get through this, and you will get through it together.
If you take a look at everything, and you take a look at the big picture. What they were saying with these “love rules” is that you need to allow yourself to be humble, and to feel, and you need to allow yourself grace, and understanding. You also need to remember to allow your spouse the same. You are both in this situation together and you will not get through it together if the communication is not open, the love isn’t equal, and the feelings aren’t mutual. Just like you say when you are standing at the alter “For better or for worse” life will happen, it happens to all of us. Even though God writes us in different stories, we all have a chapter in the story we would rather forget. Make sure you are allowing your love for one another to keep the pages turning.
If you are having a hard time with something, or going through something and need a ear to listen and would like someone to talk to please feel free to email me anytime at: firstname.lastname@example.org I am always available for you!
Happy Monday, and enjoy your week!