Getting married is an exciting and often stressful time. The planning, preparation, and anticipation can be wonderful for some, and torture to others. Overall, the wedding day is a beautiful time to celebrate the love you have for each other. When a couple decides to get hitched, often they will decide to complete some pre-marriage counseling. Many different things come up during these counseling sessions: money, past relationships, future children, extended family, etc. One that may (or may not) come up for certain couples is past loss of loved ones.
For many, past grief may seem like it plays an insignificant role in the life of your partner. Some may see how the loss has impacted their spouse in their everyday thinking. For those who have married into grief, whether long ago in the past or the more recent past, there are some simple tips to help you navigate this part of your relationship with your spouse.
1. Grief on Holidays and Birthdays
Even though it may have been a while since their loved one passed away, they may still grieve them on certain holidays or birthdays. Allow them to feel that grief and ask them how you can be helpful or take part in their grieving with them. For example, see if your spouse would like you to make a cake for their loved one on their birthday, or set an extra space for them at Thanksgiving dinner. You could even see if your partner would like everyone to share a special memory about their loved one at a family gathering. Don’t be afraid to enter into their grief with them, but don’t push your way in either. Everyone grieves in their own way, but being thoughtful and considerate is often appreciated.
2. Be Understanding
Understand that you may never fully understand their grief, and that is okay. A father who has lost a daughter may be especially fearful of having another child. A wife may get extra clingy when remembering the loss of her first husband. As their partner, you can and should try to understand what they are feeling as they grieve, but there are certain parts of their grief that you may never be able to fully comprehend. Be present with your spouse through their mourning, but it’s okay if you don’t feel the same way.
Communicate with your spouse. If you’re having a hard time knowing how to support them in their grief, ask them what you can do. If there are aspects of your partner’s grief that are hard for you to understand, ask them to explain what they are thinking or feeling. Don’t be afraid to communicate how you are processing things as well. Be sensitive in your communication, but don’t be so scared of hurting your partner while they grieve, that you are left hurting by yourself.
Dealing with grief in marriage is something that most everyone will have to deal with at some point or another. Keep these simple tips in mind, and you and your spouse are setting yourself up for a healthier and more fulfilling marriage.