Today’s guest post comes from Dwana, who shares about the deep heartache and ultimately the comfort she and her husband Brian found as they navigated the stillborn death of their son Malachi. They also experienced miscarriages.
I am humbled she would share with us, and I pray her story offers hope to others who possibly are facing something similar.
“If you could get your hands off of my stomach where we both know there is no baby, that would be fantastic.” And then tears followed. So many tears.
This was only a few weeks after our son, Malachi, was stillborn. We were trying to find a new normal, cuddled on the couch, longing to connect. We had assumed a position that in our 11 years of marriage proved to be comfortable, most likely lead to a bit of intimacy, and connect us, but I could not even do this right. His hand was gently laid on my abdomen in almost a fiercely protective manner, and all I could feel was the emptiness of it all. Nothing felt right, and my words stung his heart.
My husband and I have been married for 13 years, blessed with three beautiful girls, and three gut-wrenching losses. Our first loss was at 13 weeks, between our two oldest girls. Our last two losses were in the last four years at six weeks and then our son was stillborn.
Six pregnancies in 11 years that left us both full of joy, as well as haunted by whys, what ifs, and what should have been.
We have always been fairly good at physically connecting. If we are in the same room, we are usually touching somehow. I’d say he is pretty lucky with a wife who has a strong love language of physical touch. However, when my body is debilitated by grief, my mind can only function in survival mode. New efforts must be made.
He knew what I needed. He was the first to give me space. I learned in a grief support group to make time to grieve. My husband had the house empty one night a week. I ordered take out and cried. He knew when he came home, I would be exhausted and a mess, but by the next day I could function. I needed the space.
We started riding bikes together. We rode in silence but together. The last thing that truly helped me reconnect with him was when he let me in. He’s a private griever, great at compartmentalizing. In spite of that, he would send me a text and just say, “I’m struggling today” or “I miss our son.”
Knowing that he trusted me with his hurt helped me to be vulnerable again with my body. He was respectful and patient with me, and did not pressure me. Some days all we can do is put one foot in front of the other and choose to give grace.
We both determined not to let loss tear us apart. We had horrible days and times where we felt millions of miles apart, but we knew with our faith in Christ and our love for each other, we could be stronger together. Shattered but strengthened. A huge part of maintaining a healthy marriage is to continue with intimacy. A huge part of being intimate is learning to meet the other’s needs outside of the bedroom.
My husband has a need in the depth of his soul to be touched when he leaves for work and when he comes home. He needs to know that he is loved and seen. In the throes of grief, I may not be good at reaching outside of myself. However, I’ve learned that if I stop and love on him when he walks in the door, the tone for our evening is set at a much more loving pace. It takes sacrifice.
Honestly, during those first few months I would fall apart in his arms instead of providing love for him. We were touching. Simple touch is the beginning of intimacy.
I had a deeply trusted friend who would ask me occasionally if we were intimate; if we had allowed ourselves to make love. As awkward as this conversation was, it was extremely helpful for me.
Grief did not dissipate. It changed our lives, but by trusting each other with our grieving hearts and bodies we were able to stay connected. I made it a goal to be certain that we made love at least twice a week. It does not always happen, it is not always easy, but it is the connection we both need to grow in our marriage.
He is God and He is good.
Copyright 2018, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.