1 Corinthians 13:8
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
Last month, we were asked to guest blog for the gang over at the Relationship Project. They wanted to get our opinion on how to keep a strong marriage while going through a life change. So, we did and here is the article!
For those of you who have been with us from the get go, the first part will may be a little bit of a repeat so don't hesitate to skip forward:
We basically love marriage (especially our own) and are excited to share with you a few tips that have helped our marriage flourish even in the most difficult season of our lives.
Last year, we were just your typical late 20’s married couple. We had recently purchased our first home and were set to adopt our first pets (baby goats). We loved playing Yahtzee, hosting bonfires, and watching Friends. On June 15th at 6:20am, a serious motorcycle accident changed everything. Although the cause of the accident is still a mystery, Derek unfortunately severed his spinal cord when his body slammed into a concrete underpass near his work exit.
After hours of surgeries, many other broken bones and 4 months in the hospital, we finally made it back to our city this past fall. As a T6 paraplegic, Derek cannot feel below his armpits and has been given a less than 5% chance of walking again. With this new reality, together we are learning to pick up the pieces and move on with our life.
One thing we learned early on is that it is important to not compare and contrast people’s painful situations. We only know pain based on our own experiences, so a broken heart to one person may hurt as much as a death in the family to another. With that in mind, some pain obviously may last longer, but the initial sadness is always there.
So, here are some tips that helped us endure those painful and difficult times:
1. What’s the worst that can happen?
You heard me. Let your mind go there. It can be easy to fear the unknown and worry about the future. But, what’s the worst that can happen? Talking it through extensively and getting a plan in place will make you realize even the worst case scenario may not be that bad.
2. Let people help- Period.
Put away that pride and the “O no that’s ok, we are fine”, and just let people help. I remember the first night in the hospital I kept turning down offers until my brother reminded me that people WANT to help, so let them. You make them feel better about helping and you will feel less stress. So, take someone up on that meal train.
3. Remember: You picked them.
Since your wedding, you’ve changed. Maybe you are now more quiet, enjoy a different genre of music, or have taken up a new hobby. Now imagine your spouse saying “Ya sorry. I know I married you but I really hate that you are into knitting. You just aren’t who I married.” If you married someone under the pretenses that they were never going to change, then you need to adjust your thinking. Right now. Traumatic experiences immediately change people. Expect the change to occur and expect for you to handle it differently than your spouse. You can either choose to get to know your spouse through the change or refuse to adjust your thinking. You chose them initially for a reason, so choose them every day by embracing who they are becoming.
And don't forget...marriage is a continuous choice.
Within the first few weeks of the accident, we heard the divorce statistics of paraplegic couples which is unfortunately even higher when the injury happens after the wedding day.
The words we promised to each other only 2 year before, “For better or worse, in sickness and in health” all of a sudden took on a very real, tangible form. We want our marriage to be so much more than “Divorce just isn’t an option, so we will stick this out”. The tips you read really have played a big part in our relationship feeling normal again. We still take people up on their kind offers of help and are learning to be more flexible on expectations we set for each other. We don't have a poorer quality of marriage now, we just have a more complicated life that takes better planning and more communication.
We realize our story may be very different than yours, but trials are still trials. Viewing your spouse as your teammate and clinging to each other during a difficult time should be a priority. Practice your patience, kindness, and listening skills and you will come out of this life change as a better person and a stronger couple.