Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Lessons that Build a Lasting Marriage

My husband and I decided to share with you one of many challenges we’ve faced in our marriage and the lessons we learned with hopes to encourage any of you who may find yourself in a similar situation.

Like any good story, I have to start from the beginning. When my son was first diagnosed with mental illness, my husband and I took two very different paths to cope. 

I went into “fix it” mode. I started researching everything I could about my son’s symptoms, I read many books and was searching for answers in every direction. More than anything, I wanted to talk about it.

My husband on the other hand took a different path to cope. He began mourning the loss of former dreams. At the time, there were no games of catch or playing t-ball with the boys, instead there were only rages and walking on eggshells. And more than anything, my husband did NOT want to talk about it.

For months my poor husband would tolerate me downloading all the drama from the day when he got home from work and he couldn’t wait for us to have anything different to talk about, where as for me, I felt like we didn’t talk about “it” enough. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

Then one night my son went into a violent rage and hurt me. I was destroyed inside. I started to cry and couldn’t stop. My husband on the other hand left for a drive once my son was asleep in bed.

As I sat alone in the house sobbing, I was crushed that my husband wasn’t there to comfort me.

What I didn’t realize in that moment was that my husband was crushed too. As a man, his natural instinct was to protect his woman. If any man had put a finger on his wife, they would’ve faced his wrath. But how does a man cope with the situation when the male that has hurt his wife is his 9 year old son?

What I didn’t realize that night was that we were both broken and I expected something from my husband that I myself wasn’t capable of giving.

Looking back, I believe my husband did the best thing. By leaving for a drive, it gave him the space to calm down and to straighten out his own conflicting feelings. It gave him the chance to heal, making him strong enough to support me.

Today my husband has the strength to hold me when I’m falling apart and hopefully he feels like he has the space to cope when he needs it.

It’s so easy to blame each another and to unfairly judge one another when your world is being turned upside down. I learned a lot from that night, I learned that though we both suffer from my son’s illness, we’re dealing with different wounds and sometimes we may not be strong enough for one another. That’s why outside support is so important. I’ve also learned that this journey requires us to adjust our expectations and if we remain kind, patient and honest with one another, we can come together much stronger.

As for our different paths, well we’re still human and we’ll always cope differently. But we’re aware of each other’s needs and try to bend for one another. So yes, my husband stills tolerates me rambling on with the drama knowing that it helps me and I work on sparing him ALL the details so we might have something new to talk about. 

In the end, I know our marriage is stronger for it.

* * *

A special thank you to my amazing husband who was kind enough to “talk about it” so I could present both perspectives in my post! I love you babe!!!!

Check back on Friday when I share some practical examples of how we keep our marriage strong.

If you missed my previous post on marriage, here it is:


  1. Mama Bear thanks to you and your husband for being so honest and open about the lessons you have learned. My husband and I have gone thru similar experiences and know that taking it one day at a time is also key, although our circumstances do differ. Great post!

    1. Thank you.

      Taking it one day at a time is a great point!

  2. Mama Bear, I can completely relate to your post. We went through the denial phase for a while, well hubby did. Then when he finally saw it, we coped differently. I sat in tears and read, and read, obsessively. He just went on. He kind of just wanted to pretend it wasn't happening. I know he was able to just kind of pretend it wasn't there when he was at work. We were living separately when my son's symptoms escalated. My husband came to visit on the weekends, while I stayed up north caring for my ill grandmother. It was so hard. He'd call to talk and I'd go on and on about what had happened, because sadly it was my whole world. I talked about what he did and my dying grandmother. He had friends he lived with, work, and so many other things to focus on. I resented him quite a bit for that. It was a dark time in our relationship, it was hard, I felt very alone. It wasn't until we started living together again that he really saw first hand how "bad" things had gotten. The whole adjustment was really rough. Now, he is 100% involved. If I text message him about something going hard, if he can, he responds. He had to learn what I learned that year alone with my son. Often I was too opinionated, and judged how he handled things. I had to learn to wait to talk about it until after the fact. We still have rough patches here and there but it is much better now. I still ramble on too but I started blogging because I think there are a lot of people out there like me, hungry to hear from others. And this spares my husband a bit too! :) It is no walk in the park but I think connecting with families like ours is encouraging. Support and understanding are priceless!

    1. I can totally relate to how this is your whole world and how hard it is to talk about other things. I too started to blog for the same reasons. It felt incredible to sit at my computer and dump out all my feelings, then leave the computer feeling refreshed, it helps me let go of a lot of negative stuff, it really is healing! I can't imagine how other families dealt with this isolation before the internet! I am so thankful for online support.

  3. Wow...this read like my own story. I did the research and tried to find the "cure" and he retreated. Now, 12 years later and THREE kids with major mood disturbances (think rages and depression), we have synced it to a beautiful rhythm. We sort of tag team a rage. One will take the lead in being calm and giving direction, the other stays near, but refrains from much comment. Then when the lead parent begins to reach his/her end of tolerance, the other steps in and takes over. I don't know how we came to do this, but it's understood that that's how it will play out. He's right in there with me now. No retreating, and I'm not trying to "cure" them. It just is what it is and our job is to love them through each moment. Period. Here's to being blessed with a great partner. :)

    1. It sounds like our experiences are very common among us parents, thank goodness! Your description of how you handle rages is dead on to our method, it really is a tag team approach! Glad to hear you have such awesome support in your husband--Way to go Mr. Boxturtle!!!