You’ve got to allow yourself to feel vulnerable in order to fully cope.
As a fan of the Oklahoma City Thunder NBA team, I was saddened to learn Assistant Coach Monty William’s wife, Ingrid, lost her life February 10th when a woman driving 92 miles an hour jumped the median and struck her car head-on. It was such a blow to hear a woman so young died that way. What was even more tragic was that she left behind five children and a husband, who was frequently, “on the road” coaching my favorite team.
In an interview, Coach Williams told reporters he would never linger after practice because he wanted to go see his wife. I could only think about what he must’ve been feeling. No more opportunities to kiss her after coming home from work.
I expected him to be totally destroyed because now all of the opportunities he had to connect with his wife would no longer be there. That was far from the truth. Williams gave one of the most touching eulogies I had ever heard.
He told the crowd despite his wife’s death that, “Things are going to work out because God causes all things to work out. You just can’t quit; you can’t give in.”
Eight days later, another person made the news. Big Ang from Mob Boss lost her life due to stage IV throat cancer that had spread to her brain. Will there be a moving tribute from her husband? Probably not because he couldn’t stand the heat. In fact, Big Ang had left him because she didn’t get the proper support for her illness and she no longer could deal with the negativity that affected her health.
So I wondered, why as men do we have so much trouble with “Til death do us part,” or “In sickness and in health?” You may say to yourself, there is no way I am leaving my wife. You would be the exception. In the journal of cancer, it’s a fact that when a woman was told they had a serious illness, men were seven times more likely to divorce or separate from their spouse than if a man was told they had similar health problems.
We don’t allow ourselves to feel hurt; to feel pain. In other words, we don’t allow ourselves to feel vulnerable, thus, we act in ways that are detrimental to our marriage.
- We will use our spouse’s condition against them.
- We will define our spouse by their condition.
- We will constantly doubt ourselves and wonder if we are ever cut out for this type of marriage.
- We won’t recognize that we need to take time for ourselves constantly playing the martyr role.
We must change. Life is hard! We can’t quit! We can’t give in! Remember those times when we would battle back and win a game when it seemed like a loss was almost certain? This is the attitude we must have. Our wives, our families, and our children depend on us to be there.
So if you are a man that is dealing with a spouse that has a major illness or tragedy, here are five things you can do to help you cope.
1. Question, but don’t abandon.
It’s okay to question, but don’t abandon your faith in Spirit and Higher Power. You will find comfort there.
2. Find a good counselor and, or support group.
You are not expected to handle this alone and you’re not going to get a badge of honor because you need people around you that can empathize. You need men to share their similar stories and ways how they cope and get through it.
3. Keep living!
Even though you may be limited in the activities you use to enjoy. You should still enjoy the things that brought you together as a couple.
4. Reflect on your journey!
It may help to record your feelings. Journal your thoughts, keep a video log and be sure to share them with your spouse.
5. Make sure intimacy is a priority.
You should continue to have sex as long as you are able. Physical intimacy will help maintain your bond as a married couple. If sex is no longer an option, you must find creative ways to fulfill each other’s needs.
Few moments can test your manhood like the illness of a spouse. So if we are going to act, we must act as Monty Williams did. Speak well of your spouse both publicly and privately, and serve her till the very end whenever it comes.
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