Posts Tagged ‘ couples ’

Miscarriage: A + B doesn’t always = C

taking-care-of-your-marriage-through-infertility-feb2012-istock

When you were growing up, dreaming of someday getting married and starting a family, it all seemed so easy in your head. You would find the girl of your dreams, get married, have lots of great sex, and therefore, end up having as many kids as you wanted, whenever you decided to have them. Simple. Easy. Right? Sadly, not at all.

About a week ago, my wife noticed her period was a few days late. Not being too concerned because her cycle isn’t always “exact”, we waited a few days. Still nothing. I brought home a pregnancy test, and we found out we had our own little “Christmas present” – unexpectedly on the way. While it was definitely a surprise, we both soon took to the idea, and were looking forward to having another “little Harris” to love, guide, be part of our little family.

Two days later, she started spotting. The next day there was more bleeding, and after going to the doctor to see what was going on, we found out what we feared the most – we had miscarried again.

I shared our first miscarriage story a in a post called “Miscarriage: The subject that never get’s brought up”. Being newly married at the time, we had no idea how to deal with the emotions we both felt, and felt in different ways. Being married a little longer now, and now having our third miscarriage a few days ago, we understand a little better how each other is going to react, and what we both need from each other for comfort/healing.

I think we fail to understand how many couples struggle with having kids. How many times couples have heard the words from their doctors like “it looks like it was a pregnancy that just didn’t develop”, and finding themselves staring at the exam room wall, lost in thoughts like “how could this happen again?” Or “I don’t understand, it was going so well” or “we wanted this so badly, how could God let this happen?”. The pain in these situations is deep, and for the most part suffered in silence. The couple being too afraid to say anything, because they don’t want people to think there is “something wrong with them”. After all, nobody else has problems like this, right? Why can’t we just be “normal” like everybody else, and have kids whenever we want? But what we don’t realize, is for the most part, it’s not “easy” for any couple.

I don’t know how many friends/coworkers, who after hearing our story, have come up to me and said things like “we have lost 3 also”, or “we tried for 3 years before we got pregnant”. What I think we miss is how COMMON this really is, and how desperate couples are to find support, and understanding from other couples, but it’s the subject nobody brings up. Too many misconceptions, to much of a “downer”, people don’t know what to say, it’s awkward, etc – all reasons we have for NOT talking about it. And every one of them bad reasons. If we would get over ourselves for long enough to admit we needed support, maybe we would be able to heal faster, grow stronger, and recover better, but no – our “go to” answer is usually “I’m fine” – when in reality “fine” is not at all how we feel.

Him vs. Her: The healing process – Husbands, when this happens, we need to be keenly aware, that how YOU will want to deal with the loss, and process it emotionally, is going to be totally different from what you wife is going to need/want. The faster you realize this, and come to grips with it, the better off you are in being able to support your wife during this time, without becoming totally frustrated at her instead.

If you’re like most guys, you are going to be sad for a few days from the loss, and then you’re going to start to get this “ok, we lost this one, but let’s fix this thing and just try it again” attitude. For us, we feel out of control by the whole situation, and as a guy – who usually has a “I can fix anything” outlook, it scares us that we can’t do anything, or control the circumstances. This means after we get through the sad phase, we tend to start looking at how we can make it right again, or “fix” what we lost. We tend to look at it almost like we would if we wrecked out car – yeah, it sucks we lost our car, and have to go through the whole process of getting a new one, but sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves, isn’t going to make it any easier. Let’s get to looking at new cars, and replace the one we wrecked! Come on, let’s FIX it!

But to your dear wife, this is the last thing she wants to hear is “we can always try again”. As a woman, she needs time to grieve the loss of this child. To her it’s not just something that didn’t work out, it was a child – HER CHILD – that was LOST.

You can talk to her until you’re blue in the face about how she “just needs to move on and let it go”, and she will not only respond badly, but start to resent you for not being able to grieve this loss with her. She will begin to feel like she is totally alone in her grief/sadness, and even become angry that you’re not showing any emotion about it.

What she needs from you is total LOVE and SUPPORT. She needs you to hold her while she cries, and reassure her (without attempting to fix) that it’s all going to be ok. She needs to hear you talk about your sadness (and yes guys, this is a HARD one for us) in losing your child – what you were planning to do with him/her, thoughts you had about it, etc. This helps her not feel alone in “missing” or grieving the loss of the child. She needs you to ASK her if she’s doing ok, and not getting mad, or rolling your eyes when she brings it up 6 months later, and tells you she’s been thinking about it quite a bit today.
I know it’s not the same for us, and we sometimes don’t understand the time is takes for our wives to heal, but so what? As if this is the first thing we don’t completely understand about how God created our wives. What matters is that we ARE there for them, and regardless of how long it may take, we make sure they know we are ALWAYS there for them if they need to talk about it, or even just cry while we hold them.

Also, make sure she’s not the only one that ever brings it up. Mention to her on a random day, that you were thinking about it today, or how you can’t wait to meet your other children in heaven some day. The smile you’ll get from your wife will be priceless.

Talk it out with your wife also. Help her understand you’re not trying to “bury it”, or pretend it didn’t happen, you just deal with it differently than she does. That way she isn’t expecting you to grieve in the same way she does. If it’s the first time you’ve been though this loss, she’s not going to know what you do, any more than you know how she’s going to handle it.

Remember, the WORST thing you could do it both shut down and build a wall between you. Talk, talk, talk – I don’t care how hard it is for you, you MUST keep those lines of communication open during times like this. Your marriage depends on it. You have to be willing to roll up your sleeves, and do whatever it takes to help see your marriage through it. Don’t settle for “oh well, she’ll get over it at some point, I don’t even know what to say to her anymore” – even if you don’t know what to say, tell her that! At least you’re not just giving up.

While the loss of an unborn child is a deeply sad, and horrible thing, there is a closeness and a trust that is built and made stronger between the husband and wife, IF the two sides are allowed to grieve in the way they need, and there is a willingness to ACCEPT the other person’s way as “ok”, not criticized, or downplayed, or made to feel bad that they either haven’t or have “gotten over it” yet, or so fast.

Neither side is “the right way” or the “only way” to get through it, and the sooner the both of you accept that, the better you’ll be at healing together, growing your relationship because of it, and gaining a deeper understanding of the mate God has given you. It will get better. The pain will begin to lessen. You will be able to move on. Just understand it is a process. One that you BOTH need.

The Church and Marriage; Are we doing enough? (Survey RESULTS)

For the most part, most of this survey turned out like I had assumed it would. Sadly, I think ministry to “normal marriages” in the church (ie ones that aren’t falling apart yet) is for the most part coming up very short in most of our churches.

You remember the old saying “The squeaky wheel gets the grease”? I think it may apply in this situation. Because most married couples in church feel the imaginary pressure to pretend everything is “fine” and not admit they may be struggling to understand their spouse, or even living in a dead or dying marriage, they don’t say anything, and therefore, get looked over.

So, the church goes on creating ministries for the seniors, youth, college students, young adults, women, men, children, etc, etc, all the while not realizing that the core of most of their congregations, are hoping they would offer some type of down to earth, usable, real-world instruction – on how to understand/live with their husband/wife on a daily basis. They’re desperately trying to figure out how to communicate effectively, how to fight fair, how to have a fulfilling and exciting sex life, and see their sexual relationship in the context God has designed it to be, how to deal with in-laws, how to keep their marriage fresh with young children – the list goes on!

As you’ll notice in the results below, sex is a HUGE issue that people feel the church needs to address MUCH more, and when it does, be done in a real world, usable way.

So what’s the point to all this? Am I just trying to depress everyone? Not at all. My goal is to inspire those of you who are interested in marriage ministry to STEP UP and offer to lead/host/teach a marriage class in your local church!

And before you start in with all the “I’m not a good leader” or “I’m not good in front of people” crap, remember, we’re starting with NOTHING in most churches. Even if you don’t feel like you’re the next James and Shirley Dobson, you’re WAY better than what your church has going now. Remember Moses? The guy who couldn’t speak without stuttering? God seemed to be able to use him alright. Or Sampson? Or Paul? Not exactly “picture perfect” people before God used them, but God seems to work best through people like that. People like you and me.

The need is GREAT! The church is only as strong as the families in it, and the families are only strong if mom and dad’s relationship is strong and cared for. It’s pretty hard to show the world God’s plan for the family/marriage, if we are dealing with the same issues they are, and not being any more successful at dealing with them. No wonder they’ve started to turn to Opera and Dr. Phil.

So, as you look over the survey results below, I want you to really take a minute and ask God, “Lord, is this something you want me to help out in?”. If it’s not something you feel led to help out in, then great! But if it IS something the Lord has laid on your heart, get with your pastor, or church board, or whoever you need to, and talk about starting a marriage building ministry in your church! Not only will you learn and grow in your own marriage, but you’ll have the privilege of watching other couple’s faces light up when they finally start to understand each other!

So ask yourself this question: Why not you?

 

Here are the results (there were 76 responses):

“Christian Couple” – Is it just a cute title, or an actual lifestyle?

I heard a statistic on the radio today while I was driving to work, that really got me thinking. The statistic said that over 50% of marriages today, end up in divorce. Most of us know that one. But the one that got me, is that the divorce rate among CHRISTIAN couples, was slightly HIGHER than non-Christian couples. Yes, you read that right – HIGHER than non-Christian couples.

What that is telling us, is that not only are we no different or more successful at marriage than secular couples, we’re actually WORSE at it! What’s even more embarrassing is, we as Christians claim to serve the God that CREATED marriage! CREATED IT! Oh, and did I mention that He left us a book called the Bible that tells us how to have a successful marriage? And we still don’t get it. If this doesn’t convict us as Christian couples, I’m not sure what would. Here we are, as Christians, commanded to be the “salt and light” in the earth, and show people that even though marriage is hard work, and at times very trying, it can be done, and be one of the most rewarding relationships here on earth, if you follow the principles in His Word! But what have we done instead? We’ve actually proven the opposite point of what we should be!

If I’m a non-Christian “looking in”, why in the world would I want to bring Christ into my marriage, if the odds are actually BETTER if I don’t?! 

Sorry if this post is suddenly a hard one to read, but it’s as much aimed at me, as it is anyone else, and we can’t keep looking the other way and excusing it. It’s ridiculous.

So what am I saying? That Christ doesn’t help in marriage? That’s it no use? Not at all! What I’m saying is that WE HAVE FAILED as “Christian” couples to FOLLOW principles laid out in the Bible, that lead to having a successful and fulfilling marriage. No, put the rock down, and really think about it. You can get all “huffy” and start in with the “well, come on now, I think that’s a little harsh…” garbage, but may I direct your attention to the glaring statistic mentioned above? Yeah, it’s still there. 

Maybe we as “Christian” couples, are a lot better at “looking good” to others, than really applying  the principles in His Word to our marriages. Like the whole “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her – Eph 5:25” thing. Easy to say, but hard to do. Or how about “Do to others as you would have them do to you – Luke 6:31″. Also an easy one to preach, but hard to live out. How about Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. – Eph 4:29″ I could keep going, but I think you’re starting to get the point.

Now I’m not suggesting that Christians are supposed to be perfect. Romans 3:23 says “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” – I get that we fail, and we are human. What I don’t get is why if we call ourselves “Christ followers”, we don’t live that out in our marriages. No one’s asking us to be perfect, but what God is asking to do, is use His Word. To study His Word. To apply His word. Why is it that we are more likely when we have an issue in marriage, to listen to what the latest book, or “expert” has to say about it, than we are to say “you know what honey, let’s see what the Bible has to say about this”? And don’t try and tell me that the Bible doesn’t say any thing about “your problem”. That’s just an excuse to let yourself off the hook for digging into the Bible, and finding it. Just because you don’t know of it, doesn’t mean it’s not in there. You just have to go find it, and that takes a little effort. Something we don’t like to put out.

Or when was the last time you actually PRAYED over a problem in your marriage? You know – prayer?! How long has it been since you’ve both gotten down on your knees, grabbed each other’s hand, and prayed something like this: “Lord, we’ve got a problem here that we can’t seem to overcome by ourselves. We know you’ve put us together in this marriage, and we need your help understanding one another. Please help us find some common ground as we discuss this, and help us figure out what to do. In Your name, amen” If you’re like most of us, it’s been a while. Why? Why do we depend on the “Dr Phils” of the culture to help us with our marriage, when the very one who CREATED marriage, is supposedly the very God we claim to “follow”? Are we just lazy? Are we just so weak in our walk with Christ that we don’t know how? Yes – these are hard questions to ask, but I think it’s high time we asked them. 

Marriage is not about us! The whole point of having a good, fulfilling, Christ centered marriage, is not for us to be able to jump around and go “hey, look at us! We have a good marriage!” No, the whole point of a successful, fulfilling, Christ centered marriage, is to proclaim to the world, “Look at how the Lord has brought together these two sinful, selfish, and imperfect people, and given them an unconditional love for one another – against all odds, against all trials, against all the things that have come against them. Isn’t God amazing!?” It is to bring HIM glory, not ourselves. It’s not to boost our own egos, or congratulate ourselves that we have somehow “cracked the marriage code” and have a good marriage. On the contrary! I believe God created marriage to be a challenge. He never said it was going to be a walk in the park. What He did do however, is give us a manual to guide and help us through every situation. One that as “followers of Christ”, we’re supposed to be using. 

Val and I have couples come up to us and say things like “man, you guys just seem to have the perfect marriage”, or “do you guys really have issues too?”. Do we have issues? Really?! That’s like asking if the sun is “really all that hot”. Our marriage is just as hard, and has just as many issues as anybody else’s does. But it’s humbling to know that people NOTICE our marriage, because of the way we treat each other, and how we seem to actually “love” each other openly. It’s almost like it’s so rare in today’s culture (unless you’re newlyweds) that when you do have a close marriage, it almost sticks out like an “odd” thing! But here’s the key! When we get those comments, we have a choice to go “yeah, I guess we are pretty good at this” and take the credit ourselves (even though we don’t deserve any of it), or say “You know what, we haven’t done anything different from any other couple, besides follow what the Bible has to say about marriage as close as we can.Have we had several trials, struggles, and rough spots in our marriage? Too many to count. But if you commit to seek out what HE has to say about each issue you encounter, instead of relying on your own emotions/feelings to rule the situation, you CAN overcome any trial/hardship that comes your way. It takes work. It takes determination. It takes the Lord working on your hearts. But it CAN be done. 

I truly believe if we as Christians really began “living the lingo” instead of just talking a good game, and then going home and complaining, back biting, withholding sex from each other, loving only if they love back, harboring hurts, using cutting words, calling names, not accepting blame for our own faults, etcwe could bring the percentage of successful Christian marriages well into the 90% range. There is NO REASON this isn’t a real possibility. Well, besides ourselves. We are the only ones that can limit what we allow God to do our marriages. He’s a gentleman. He’s not going to barge his way in and fix our marriages for us. He waits for us to ask. And that’s all it takes – just inviting Him into your marriage. Inviting Him to help two sinful, self-centered, short-sighted human beings, and allowing him to work in our hearts first, and then our relationship with each other.

So let’s challenge ourselves! Let’s see what the Bible has to say about marriage! Is your sex life struggling? Maybe check out Song of Solomon. Are you having anger problems? Look up “anger” in your concordance, or even Google “scriptures on anger”. Having struggles with communication? Raising kids? Or (insert problem here)? Find it in the Word! Now this isn’t to say there aren’t GREAT resources and books from amazing Christian authors, pastors, etc. that we should use and take advantage of – I’m just saying let’s start with the Bible, and then go from there, Instead of starting with everything else, and forgetting the Bible all together. 

The world is looking for hope when it comes to marriage. And so far, they’re not finding it in “Christian couples”.  Up to this point we have been more apt to throw in the towel than the world. Not only is that incredibly sad, I think it’s high time we change that. Let’s start acting more like the Christ followers we say we are, and less like the world we claim to not be a part of.

“You can’t tell me what to do!” – How pride affects our marriages.

A few days ago, I was in local grocery store where I live, and overheard a conversation between an employee of the store and a customer. The employee had made a very polite attempt to ask the customer to please have her child sit down in the cart, because she was worried the child might fall out (crazy idea I know). Instead of replying “oh, no problem!” and asking her child to sit down, the customer retorted “Don’t try and tell me how to parent my child!”, and left the store.

As I went about the rest of my day that day, I couldn’t help but think about what I saw, and how that kind of attitude – the one that says “You can’t tell me what to do! I can do whatever I want!” – no matter how wrong or idiotic it may be – seems to be getting more prevalent these days. Instead of accepting correction or advice, people now tend to reply “well, that works for you, but don’t try to push your opinion on me”, even when it comes to the safety of their own children, as in the example above. That mother’s pride prevented her from accepting what was obviously a well intended, and much needed, correction. What does this have to do with marriage? Hear me out.

How often do we have the same “you can’t tell me what to do, I’m doing it my way” attitude with our wives when they come to us and present us with an issue they see in us that needs worked on? Now we may not say it out loud, but in our heads we’re thinking “Yeah right, you want me to work on that? Don’t get me started on things that you need to work on!”, instead of really hearing what she’s saying, and taking it to heart. Why do we do this? Most of it comes from our good friend PRIDE. We don’t want to admit we have anything to work on. It takes a good bit of humility to say “wow, you’re right hon, I haven’t been doing very well in that area.” It takes even more humility to sincerely ask our wives periodically “Hey hon, how am I doing lately? Is there anything you’ve seen in me that I need to work on?” 

Or how about when you’re both struggling with an issue in your marriage. Doesn’t matter what it is. Both of you know you need to get advise from a counselor, your pastor, or even another trusted couple. But for the sake of pride, you don’t. You live with it. For years. Really?! Why do we put ourselves through this? Because we convince ourselves that no other couple is struggling with any issues. We must be some kind of “failure couple” that doesn’t have the great marriages that “all of our friends seem to have”. Wanting to salvage our pride, we hide it. We act like we have it all together when we’re around other couples, and then when we get home we go to our separate rooms, and continue to live out our lives in a dead marriage. Sad isn’t it? Maybe pathetic would be a better word (sorry, I didn’t say this would be an easy post to read).

If there’s something in your marriage that needs addressed, no matter who’s at fault, address it! Don’t let the elephant in the room set up camp and live there! 

And let me let you in on a little secret: There is no such thing as a marriage that doesn’t encounter issues!

Just because you might be struggling with one of those “topics no one brings up” like miscarriage, porn addiction, emotional or physical affairs, etc – you have to ask yourself the question: Does my marriage mean more to me than “saving face” and not admitting I have a problem? When you step back for a moment and really look at it, it’s pretty sad that we allow our pride to hold us in a unfulfilling marriage, when all it takes is a “Hey man, I’m really struggling with (insert problem here)” to a trusted Christian brother or couple, to start you on the road to getting better. To at least start to work on it, instead of just bury your head in the sand for another week, month or year. It’s not worth it! especially when you realize after you finally tell someone, that they have struggled with that in their marriage too. And to think you waited this long, all to find out you weren’t “strange” or a “failure”, you were just a normal marriage, going through struggles like every one else.

The sooner we as married couples come to the conclusion that WE ALL STRUGGLE with mostly the same issues (yes, even marriage bloggers), the sooner we can move to support each other, instead of just “existing” next to each other, and never getting past “how the kids are doing” when we in our conversation. Putting your pride aside and admitting you struggle isn’t easy, but the sooner we “get over ourselves” and start, the stronger our marriages will be.