04 December 2009

Breck's Thoughts: Making Our Marriage Work

Studies have shown that "parents of youngsters with genetically based diseases...have a higher than 70% divorce rate." (USA Today Magazine; Dec93, Vol. 122 Issue 2583). 

We are under no illusion that that couldn't happen to us.  However, we expect to follow through with "to death do us part" since Brian and I both take our marriage commitment very seriously.

As soon as we learned we had a child with a serious chronic illness, we discussed with each other our concerns over how that might affect our marriage.  What good is saving our child if we lose our marriage in the process?

Fortunately, for the first few weeks, we were closer than ever.  But as the shock of it all wore off, life began to return to normal and Bennett's daily needs continued, we began to better understand the effect of marital distress. 

A particularly poignant moment came before thanksgiving over our first dinner alone in a long time.  We were just coming off of two weeks of Bennett in the hospital and almost that long of not having talked to each other (other than to update the status of Bennett's health and share any other vitally important information).  It just seemed that every time one of us was ready to share our hearts, the other person was in the midst of chaos or was too exhausted.

So, we just bottled it up and waited...until this moment.  Over dinner we began to share everything we had wanted to share before.  But it seemed empty. 

It wasn't long before we each began to feel those you-don't-get-me feelings.  And then the snippy comments and sly jabs followed.  We were beginning to reveal that we blamed each other for how we felt and for why we were stressed to begin with.

As soon as we noticed what was happening to our beautiful but rare time together, we stopped and took stock of how we were feeling: we were both angry.  This isn't the way we wanted things to be...and we don't like this.

We stopped. 


My eyes began to swell with tears. 


"Breck," Brian started, "I think we need to forgive each other and move on.  We don't have time to deal with this.  We don't have time to rehash out and apologize for every little thing we're mad at each other for.  We've got more stuff coming down the pipeline."

He was right.  We have too many other things - more fires that need to be put out...many we don't even yet know about.

"And Breck, I think we're going to need to just need more resources than ever before.  We're going to need more time together, more time by ourselves, more help from family and friends, more financial resources, more church community, more God...than ever before. We're just going to need more."

I looked at my husband with such love.  This is why I married him.  His insight was right.  We are going to have to forgive faster and expect to use more resources if we're going to survive this.

It was at that moment that we joined again as a team.  We are not fighting against each other - but against the stress that threatens to pull a family a part. 

We don't have any control over the things that are thrown our way.  Bennett's illness does not give warnings nor does it check our calendar or bank account to see if this is a good time.  It just happens.  But we do have control over the way we respond, to it and to each other.

So, the way we plan on making our marriage work - in the midst of a situation where many marriages don't - is to give grace to each other and to accept we will need more resources than ever before.


  1. We find the continual forgiveness is key. Sometimes you just can't be there for your spouse because honestly you aren't there for yourself. Sometimes we are 'ugly' to the other, because we just can't process the emotions we are dealing with. And in that moment, the spouse offers grace. I know we aren't dealing with a chronically sick child, but we are dealing with chronic pain which brings with its own brokenness. Love you guys and your fight to make it work. And if ya'll ever need us (speaking for the masses that love you) to remind you of the beautiful marriage you two share, we are here.

  2. Hi Breck and Brian,

    I have certainly been praying for y'all (even though I don't know you, we are associated with our Pine Cove family and through Christ). I was reminded of this passage that I hope will give you some encouragement. Print it out, put it where you can read and be reminded:
    Paul writing to the Philippians in
    Philippians 4:10-13, 19&20:

    I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret to being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength... And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

    Be blessed!

  3. Good post. Thanks for your honesty, Breck. I feel the weight of stress in my marriage with a healthy infant son. Brian's words of needing more forgiveness and resources and God really ring true for our family, too. Thanks for sharing... I needed to hear this.

  4. I was so touched by your honesty and so blessed too. I am praying for you and Brian.

  5. Breck,

    What a wonderful post. It's so generous of you to share your raw emotions like this. It's hard to show the ugly side of ourselves, but we all have it. Anyone who is married has certainly experienced what you just described - and oftentimes, it's over things that are far more petty. Brian's right - we all need to learn to forgive faster. Wouldn't that make the world such a better place?!

    I also liked what Chelsea said - sometimes we're so wrapped up in our own head trying to process everything that we take out the frustration on the other person.

    I'm just glad you and Brian have reunited forces - you're stronger together! Stay strong in the Lord! We love you.


  6. Hey,

    This is Jared Angell's wife and I was struck by your family and unique challenges and stumbled across your blog. This post was inspiring to me. I do think your hubby was wise to say that and you were wise to hear it and abide in it. May God continue to bless and protect your sweet family!



We love to hear from you! Please leave your comment below!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.