Posts Tagged ‘ relationships ’

Miscarriage: A + B doesn’t always = C

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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.

Sex. What if we just quit being selfish?

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The sex argument:  “She’s not giving me enough sex”, or “He’s not giving me enough sex”. Over and over we go through the same argument  the same hurt, the same “if you loved me you would have sex with me”.  This goes on for a few days or weeks, and then it get’s better for a while (mostly out of the party that’s not “putting out” as much as the other party would like, feeling guilty), but sooner than later (usually sooner), we’re back into the same never-ending battle.

How do I know this? Because I’ve been there. Got the t-shirt, and the key chain. Even have the hat. Not there anymore. But in getting from there to where we are now, we’ve learned a few things.  You know what it all really comes down to? YOU. It all comes down to you being able to say “I am going to willingly lay down my own selfishness and desires, for the benefit of my spouse and our relationship”. That’s it. The end. I should sell a book!

Oh yes, there are all kinds of excuses either party can come up with. There are all the standard reasons why you are right, and he/she’s not. Or why he/she doesn’t really NEED it as much as they say they do. Or that it’s not as important as everybody says it is. On and on they go…..blah blah blah. Every one of them just trying to excuse what is really at the bottom of it – selfishness. WE don’t want to do something, because WE don’t want to do it. It’s not going to kill us, it’s not going to hurt, it’s not an impossibility, it’s just WE don’t WANT to.

And it’s not like there aren’t plenty of things in this life that we do already, even though we don’t WANT to. I don’t WANT to go to work every day. I don’t WANT to get a filling at the Dentist. I don’t WANT to do yard work in the middle of the summer. But with all these things, what we may WANT or FEEL like doing, doesn’t really apply. Try calling up your boss one morning and telling him you just “don’t feel like” coming in today. Odds are he/she’s not going to be amused. Or what if we didn’t get that filling we needed, just because we didn’t FEEL like it? I don’t think the price of having your tooth decay and eventually fall out, is worth putting it off because you didn’t WANT to.

Why is it that we put sex with our spouse – the one that we stood up there with in front of all those people, and committed to LOVE and HONOR and CHERISH – below mowing the lawn, or going to work, or doing the laundry?! And don’t give me the “it’s just not the same” excuse! What we are saying to your spouses when we deny them sex (barring illness, physical disability, etc) is:

“Sorry honey, even though I know you need what you’re asking for, and can only get it from me, you’re not important enough to lay aside my own feelings/desires/mood, and give it to you”.

Not a real pretty statement is it? Not very sugar coated. Makes us look pretty pathetic really. So instead of just coming out and saying the wonderful line above, we say “sorry honey, work has been really tough lately, I’m just not there right now”, or “Sorry babe, I just don’t feel like it tonight”, or “I have a headache”hoping to hide the true reason (stated above) behind a more “acceptable” excuse. One that makes us look a little better. Telling ourselves the whole time that “she should just understand”, or “he needs to know that he doesn’t get it anytime he wants it”.

A husband and wife should be able to depend SOLEY on one another for sexual satisfaction, and fulfilling their sexual desires. That means as long as neither party is being stimulated by ANY other sources (porn, erotica, romance novels, etc), their spouse should be able help them satisfy their sexual drive to the BEST of their ability!

“But what if I want to meet my souse’s need, but my body won’t follow?” It doesn’t have to ALWAYS be intercourse! There are plenty of “other ways” that the he can help her, or she can help him, get the release he/she needs, until the time when you can fully participate in intercourse. But just watch you attitude when you do this! This is KEY! If you have a  “fine, whatever, I’ll help you” attitude, is that showing love to your spouse? I don’t think so. Even if you have to “fake it” a little for the benefit of your spouse, you are trying to get across that you LOVE them and are WILLING be a servant to them, even if you may not be “totally into it”. And don’t tell me you can’t fake it, because I’ve heard people be right in the middle of a heated argument,  their phone rings, and all the sudden they go from blazing mad to “Hello? Hey Angie! (Big fake smile), I’m doing GREAT! How are you guys?” But when it comes to our mate, we have to make sure they know they’re really “putting us out”, and really show them we would rather be doing something else by our attitude.

And you know what that does for the spouse that is asking? It makes him/her think to themselves “I’m not going to ask again, because he/she doesn’t care about this anyway. I’m just an obligation to him/her.” And then that leads to that spouse seeking other, more “willing” sources (like porn or erotica) to satisfy their sexual needs. Wouldn’t you rather have you spouse come to YOU anytime they needed a sexual need met? Even if I’m not always on the same page, I would sure as heck rather have her coming to me, than be tempted to get that need met from some other source.

So, what if instead of throwing a mini-tantrum, we decided to do everything we could to WILL our minds into being “into” it for the sake of our spouse? What if we said to ourselves, “Ok, I’m making the decision to put my own feelings away for a few minutes, and help my husband/wife with a need he/she has that only I can meet. I’m going to do it because I LOVE him/her. I’m going to do it because I know it’s good for both of us, and makes our relationship stronger. It’s not going to kill me. I can do what I was going to do later. I’m making the CHOICE to put him/her first.” I think you may be surprised  at how you might find yourself “getting into it” more than you might have thought you would. But even if you don’t, it’s still worth it, because you can rest assured (and better if you’re headed to bed) that you just did something that may have not been on your top ten list at this moment, but in doing so you just built up your spouse, strengthened your marriage, and became closer together at the same time. Sounds a lot better than mowing the lawn anyway. 🙂

PROTECT Your Marriage!

Having a good marriage is hard work. You’ve probably figured out that by now. It takes two people who are willing to put each other first. It takes prayer. It takes two people who fight tooth and nail to keep their marriage strong – against all odds, against all things that might pose a threat to it. So, are we then asking ourselves the question daily:

“What am I doing to ACTIVELY PROTECT my marriage?” 

It’s not enough to just sit around and hope that your marriage stays strong. I believe we have to make a CHOICE to constantly WORK on making our marriages better, and protecting them from the negative influences that are so common in our world today. Even if your marriage is AMAZING right now, we can’t let ourselves fall for the lie that says “there’s no way our marriage could fall prey to attack, we’re doing great!” We have to be proactive in keeping our marriage STRONG. 

While this sounds great to say, it’s not as easy to actually put into practice. It’s kind of like staying in shape – you can talk about it all you want, but until you get up earlier and start exercising every morning, you’re not going to stay fit. Does it suck having to get up earlier and go jogging? Let me tell you – YES it does! There are some days you don’t want to even drag yourself out of bed, let alone put on your shoes and go running. Some thing goes for working on your relationship and keeping it safe from attack. Sometimes it’s not fun to force yourself to “talk out” a problem with your spouse, instead of just burying it and watching TV. It takes work! 

Remember when you were a little boy, and you would build castles in the sand, or out of blocks? Man, I would spend some time on those when I was a kid! I would get it all just like I wanted it, and then stand back, and admire what I had built. But then came the part of protecting it against damage – whether it be from my little sister (sorry sis), or from the waves coming up trying to wash my hard work all away. I would pretend that I was a soldier standing on the wall of my castle, looking for anything that may come to destroy it. Are we “standing on the wall” of our marriages”? And do we even know what we’re looking for? Here are a few that I’ve had to watch for in my marriage –

  • Busyness – getting so busy with “must do” stuff, that we don’t have time for each other anymore. We become “roommates” instead of husband and wife.
  • Porn/Erotica – Like I talk about in my posts “Porn; It’s Ruining Your Marriage”, and “Fifty Shades of Danger”, it’s hard enough to foster a great sexual relationship with your spouse, without bringing other influences into your marriage bed. You might think it’s not a big deal, or even “helps” your sex life. But, like I heard somebody say the other day – “not all poisons are fast acting”. Just because you don’t see it effecting you right now, doesn’t mean it won’t later.
  • Too much kids, not enough “us” – We all love our kids, but we need to put our marriage BEFORE the kids. Now don’t throw your stones at me yet, hear me out. If you marriage isn’t good, then your parenting will suffer also. The kids can tell when mom and dad aren’t as close as they should be, and there becomes a tension in the home that is not fun to be around. You HAVE to make time for a date night, and time together each week! When we started doing this, the kids not only benefited by my wife and I being in better moods, but they started noticing that our marriage was IMPORTANT to us, and said stuff like “when are you going on date night again?” Your kids are smart. Remember, these are the same kids who figured out how the baby gate works, while we were still reading the instructions (or maybe that’s just my kids). They can figure out if mom and dad’s relationship is doing well or not.
  • Unresolved conflict – This one is a lot larger issue than we may think. It’s the “little things” that add up, like the sharp comment on the drive to church, or the little remark here or there, usually followed by the awkward silence. Most of the time we may not respond at the time, choosing to “be the bigger person” (or so we convince ourselves), but we tend to keep a “mental note” each time our wives do something. After a few days, those “notes ” pile up, and we’re holding them against her more than we think. Instead, what if we dealt with the issue at the time? Otherwise, they end up piling up until we finally have had enough, and then here comes the big argument that really isn’t about what set it off at all, but instead about the little things we chose not to deal with at the time. Big intimacy killer.
  • Lack of touch – Not sexual, just loving touch. How long has it been since you took a walk and held hands like when you were dating? How about on the couch when you’re watching TV? During the day when you’re both home together, do you stop for an embrace every once in a while? These things all go towards feeling more connected before you ever arrive in the bedroom.
  • Bad Sex Life – I had to mention this, because I’ve heard way to many comments from way to many couples that they have sex 2 or 3 times a month, or I read about one couple who had it 3 times in a year. Wow! Really? If I had to describe the role sex plays in a marriage, I would say you could compare it to the role oil plays in the engine of a car (ok, so I like car analogies). Without a good sex life your marriage (engine) will begin to overheat, little things will annoy you much more than they did before, and you will start to feel more like a “live-in” than a married couple. God designed sex to be the glue that helps hold a marriage together. Without it, it’s MUCH harder to stay emotionally close, and feel connected to your wife. I could go into this much deeper, but that’s a subject for another day. Just know that a good sex life is not easy to have or keep going, but is critical to the overall success/closeness of the relationship.
  • Relationships at work – I believe it’s way too easy to become “flirty” or talk about issues in your marriage, with girls you work with. It’s way to easy to say rationalize in our minds that “It’s no big deal, I have to talk to her – I work with her after all”, or “It’s not flirting, we just giving each other a hard time at work”. We need to have a sharp eye out for what is, and what is not appropriate, to be discussing/doing with a woman other than our wives. You should not be finding an emotional connection with other women. It’s a slippery slope, and while you may say “there’s no way it would never happen to me, I would never cheat on my wife”, time after time I read stories about people who said the very same thing, and yet ended up in a hotel room. Remember, PRO-active. It’s a little late to try and put out the flames, after half the house has already burned down. Let’s stop it before the match is even lit.
This stuff matters men! I think there are times we put more effort into protecting our psychical homes (alarm systems, owning a gun, putting deadbolts onto our doors), than protecting our marriage! God designed us to be the leaders of our homes/marriages – let’s step up our defenses and ask Him to help us have a keen eye for the attacks that come our way! Remember, “PROTECT YOUR CASTLE”! 

What are some issues you have found that need to be “watched for” from the wall of your marriage?

What is your biggest re-occurring struggle in marriage? How have you found success in dealing with it?

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