Marriage after Loss
My husband Sam and I have been married almost 11 1/2 years. We’d always joked that we’d been through more in nine years of marriage than most people had in a lifetime. A young marriage, war, deployments, job loss, money troubles, short-selling a home, a child with stressful first year medical issues, both of us in school, move after move, and him rejoining the military.
Then in 2012, our twin sons were born at only 20 weeks. I remember Sam by the hospital bedside as Preston took his last tiny breaths on me, and he laid his head down and wept. I thought nothing we could endure would be any harder than those moments, but the aftermath took its toll on us.
I was a disaster. For months, I stumbled around in a fog. Every time I closed my eyes I saw their little faces, scrunched up and trying so hard to live. Every night was filled with nightmares of me trying to find and save them. I cried myself to sleep. I lost my temper. Anything to do with babies sent me over the edge for the entire day.
We started to argue a lot. I couldn’t figure out how his life seemed to go back to normal a few weeks later and mine was still so shattered. I wanted to talk about them all the time, to weep over them every night. I wanted him to listen to my deepest thoughts and fears over and over.
He couldn’t, and he finally told me. Not all the time, every night. He was emotionally drained as well but on a different level.
I started on Zoloft at the recommendation of my OB, then a few weeks later started therapy that Sam attended on and off. I felt resentful when he didn’t go, after all, I was the one actually grieving and he’d just stuffed it all away. He needed the help. I was going to be all super healthy and great and he’d be the mess now.
Only – it didn’t work that way. I learned my husband had his own grief process to work through, one I didn’t even bother to try and see in the midst of my own pain. I began to find ways to branch out my healing so it didn’t depend solely on Sam being the only receiver. I called friends. I wrote. I read. I found hobbies. I went back to working from home.
When I needed him to listen, or he needed to talk about our sons too, we were able to do so in a much healthier way. He could come to me and say, “Someone today announced their wife is pregnant. It was really hard to hear.” I could listen and sympathize deeply with those feelings without taking it to level 27 of emotional meltdown. I started to talk to him about what I needed from him when I cried/talked/was angry without him feeling trapped and as if every response was the wrong one.
Slowly we began to see each other’s walks through this.
We had another son pass away at 3 weeks old this past year. As life shattering as this has been, we’ve been able to truly help each other grieve and heal in this process from the start. We both are in therapy together nearly every week. He’s taken a couple of days to get away and be alone for a while. This month we celebrated the 2nd birthday of our twins Preston and Julian with a cake and present for our daughter. I’ve sat on the couch at night and bawled while he holds me quietly, and our eyes meet over our daughter as she sleeps and we know what a miracle it is that she’s here.
It’s not perfect. When we fight, it tends to be over stupid, petty things. It’s the little irritations that bring out our hurt. In therapy, we’ve learned how to break these cycles everyone falls into, and to understand more about what might have triggered an emotion that seems out of no where. We’re able to communicate more on what we need from the other in times of sadness and anger.
I don’t know what the future holds for us. But I do know this – I’m so thankful we started to get help before our third loss. I don’t know if our marriage would have survived Kaden dying after losing the twins. Now I look at us and I can’t imagine anything that would ever break it up.