Whether it’s a diagnosis of serious illness, a car accident, or job loss, every marriage will eventually include suffering. While moonlit walks on the beach are undoubtedly a more enjoyable way to build closeness with your spouse, suffering has equal or greater potential to bring spouses together. “How you suffer matters greatly; suffering can drive you apart or it can draw you together,” says Mary Jo Pedersen in For Better, For Worse, For God (Loyola). When pain and difficulty make their presence known in your family, enter into the pain together.
Do not flee. Denial is helpful for a very short period of time to keep functionality in the face of immediate crisis. Once the initial shock of the circumstance is over, though, don’t use extended work hours or busyness as a substitute for talking about the problem with your spouse. Pretending everything is normal when it is not leads to a build-up of anger and sometimes depression.
Seek wisdom. Together, learn what you can about what is the cause of your pain—go to the library together to find books on the subject. Sit together at the computer and research. Lean into your community—find others who have been through something similar and landed right side up. If you feel a lack of forward motion after taking these measures, find a good counselor.
Look for God’s grace. The temptation to ask, “Why is God doing this to me?” is a strong one. But scripture teaches us that God does not directly send us suffering. Rather, suffering is part of the human condition, and God’s grace is so strong that goodness can be pulled from even the most tragic of circumstances. Together, pray with your spouse to be open to what God is asking of you.
By Annemarie Scobey, from the pages of At Home with Our Faith, Claretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home. Winner of the Best in Class award in 2013 from the Associated Church Press, as well as a First Place General Excellence award from the Catholic Press Association for the past four years running. Here’s a sample issue.
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