Surviving Turbulent Times in a Marriage

 Knowing how to grieve together can strengthen and deepen your love connection.

Knowing how to grieve together can strengthen and deepen your love connection.

We all want life to give us certainty, and all desire a sense of permanence. At the same time, there are moments when we are faced with the reality that life is uncertain, and volatile. Even with the latest advances in medicine, and our eternal struggle for immortality, we still face a reality that at some point, we will lose loved ones around us, and eventually, we will die. How we navigate our longings and desires in a world where we are forced to face certain realities is an area that can challenge our well-being, and the connection in a marriage or love relationship.

In moments of uncertainty, volatility, or loss, we reach for other people that we trust to respond in ways that help us through life’s storms. Is our partner or spouse emotionally available for us in a way that helps us feel safe to reach out when we are vulnerable? Does he or she provide soothing responses that help us feel connected, rather than isolated?

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Loss

brings up the most intense needs

For couples, it is precisely these moments of need that can shape and define the path of a love relationship. We need our partner or spouse when the vulnerability hits us. Some people may not realize how much it matters to continue giving soothing responses long after the vulnerability or loss has struck.

For instance, the sudden death of a parent can bring overwhelming feelings of loss and grief to one partner. The intense need for understanding and comfort from the partner or spouse may never be higher. As we are forced to face loss, many people experience grief in waves that may continue for years after the event.

A challenge in a marriage or love relationship is to embrace each other in those moments of vulnerability, even when it may seem that the loss should already be healed. Grief can be complicated, and a loving and caring partner or spouse shows compassion toward his or her mate through the long haul.

Ask yourself: can you count on your partner or spouse to be emotionally available for you during times of vulnerability, uncertainty, or loss? Can you imagine feeling safe and comfortable enough to reach out to him or her and ask for what you need in those moments? Have there been times in your marriage or love relationship when you’ve experienced intense vulnerability, and your partner or spouse let you down?

In our love relationships, we need to know that we can count on our primary connection to consistently respond in ways that help us feel better. This is not a state of perfection, but being able to predict that most of the time you'll get what you need forms the basis of a satisfying and long-lasting marriage or love relationship.

The good news is that inviting and receiving positive responses is not the result of something we are “born with.” We can learn a set of skills that help us thrive in our love relationships. With secure connections, we can plan for our future, reflect on the nature of our lives, and search for deeper meanings together. We find comfort in our connection with the person we love most, sharing our vulnerabilities together, while receiving empathic responses that lessen the dread and isolation of life's uncertainties.