Surviving loss: How you and your spouse can tackle grief together

Crystal Bennett

There is no heartbeat.

These four words wrecked our world.

Everything was fine four days earlier. Four days earlier our son’s heartbeat was strong; he was mobile and active. We were anticipating his arrival in less than two weeks.

But our son would be stillborn.

There would be no miracle for us. No misdiagnosis. No reason for his death. Only questions and an empty nursery.

No one can truly know how each will respond in times of difficulty until each is in it. When a married couple is facing hardship of any kind, it can be twice as hard—twice the grief, twice the stress, twice the personalities, twice the (usually opposite) reactions.

But in Ecclesiastes 4:12 it says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

When you understand your spouse's grief, you can approach your hardship stronger together.

If you know early on where your spouse is coming from, and understand how his or her grief is manifesting, you can approach your hardship stronger—together.

Four Ways Men Can Love Their Wives Through Hardship

1. Don’t be afraid of tears.

Tears are real. And there are lots of them. Sometimes they come unexpectedly, and it’s best to not be afraid of them. Understand they are part of your wife’s healing process.

2. Let her know she’s not alone, and remind her you’ll get through this together.

In other words, don’t try to fix it. Most of the time, you can’t fix it. What you can do is ask if there’s anything you can do, then accept it if not (1 Peter 4:8).

3. Understand that all of your wife’s emotions are tied together.

Don’t be offended if there is spillover from the hardship into another subject. Be understanding and thick-skinned (James 1:19).

4. Be the spiritual leader of the relationship.

It’s important for husbands to encourage and guide their family to trust in the Lord, even when it is hard. Gently shift the focus onto something positive or verbalize how faithful God has been, that He will see you through this as you work together to figure it out.

Four Ways Women Can Support Their Husbands Through Hardship

1. Allow him to grieve differently.

Just because he’s not sitting around crying and moping doesn’t mean he’s not grieving or dealing with the issue at hand. Those projects he’s taking on? That’s his way of compartmentalizing the grief, his way of working through it. Let him process that way—and allow him the freedom to do so without guilt and judgment (Ephesians 4:2-3, Colossians 4:6).

2. Seek to understand his motives.

Your husband wants to defend you and take away the pain, even though that is impossible. Many times husbands’ natural instinct is to do something—so let him. And gently help direct what that looks like (Proverbs 15:1).

3. Give him space to grieve.

Though he seems strong, your husband still needs his space to grieve. He tries to stay strong and shield you from harm, but he, too, needs space to decompress.

4. Affirm him.

If the trial is something that challenges his role as a leader and provider, he needs affirmation that you still believe in him (Proverbs 18:21, Proverbs 31:11–12).

Above all, cling to the promises of the Lord. The Lord is good. He is a good father, and He takes care of His children (Isaiah 46:4). This is hard to believe in the midst of the chaos, but we know it to be true.

“Though one may be overpowered,” the Bible says, “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” When you allow the Lord into your marriage, to guide you through the tough times, you allow the third strand to interweave and hold you both up.

The Lord always keeps his promises.

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