If you lose your parent or your partner loses a parent, your marriage will be affected. The effect of the death of a parent on your marriage will be depended on the role the parent who died played in your marriage.
The parent who died may not have been directly involved in your marriage but even the indirect involvement can still have serious effects on your marriage.
In other words, if one partner in a marriage is affected by the death of a parent, the effect will reach to the other partner; you and your partner are one.
To avoid potential disaster, you need to take the right measures to secure your marriage when one of you loses a parent.
Grief is a tough journey. A partner you may have known for many years can show behavior you have never seen before.
It takes wisdom to peacefully navigate the grief season.
If you are the one who has lost a parent, here are the steps you need to take to secure your marriage:
1. Agree on the level of involvement in your Parent’s Funeral
In most cases, partners in a marriage have no problem getting involved when the parent of one of the partner dies. But the problem comes in when deciding on the level of involvement that is favorable for the marriage.
You may want to go and spend time at your parents’ home but your partner wants you to stay at home. Your partner may want you to only visit the home of your parents during the day but spend nights at home when you want to spend nights at your parents’ home.
Such disagreements are the ones that adversely affect marriages when one of the partners loses a parent.
If you are the one who has lost a parent, make sure you call your partner and share your views. Discuss on what you feel is sufficient involvement in the funeral arrangements of your parent.
Let your partner know that you still love for them but you need to get the grief out of the way.
In your negotiations, make sure you remain flexible. Your partner still has a right over you. Don’t shrug off your partner claiming that your partner does not understand how you feel.
Don’t leave your home unless you have had a clear agreement on how much time you will spend handling the funeral arrangements of your late parent.
2. Agree on Intimacy with your Partner
Intimacy is a core part of every marriage; it cannot be ignored. Depending on how much your parent’s death has affected you, decide whether you can have intimacy with your partner or not.
If you don’t feel like getting intimate with your partner, notify them. Make sure you are on the same page regarding intimacy.
In your agreement, specify for how long your partner should allow you to grieve before you can get intimate again. Don’t ask your partner to wait indefinitely; set a specific date even if you are not sure.
You can agree to get intimate after a given number of days if you will be feeling better by then. If you still won’t be in the mood for intimacy when that day comes, let your partner know that you will add a few more days.
Explain it to your partner that it is for the good of the marriage to agree on the matter.
3. Plan about Taking Care of your Children
The third important matter to agree on is the care of children. Taking care of children takes collective responsibility. When one partner is not able to handle their part in taking care of children, the other partner must be willing to step in.
Chances are that you will not be able to handle your part in taking care of children as you normally do after the loss of your parent.
This is why it is important to discuss on what duties your partner should relieve you when it comes to the care of children.
Not only should you outline the duties that your partner should relieve you but also for how long you should be relieved of those duties.
Be careful that you do not put too much pressure on your partner for too long in terms of handling duties in the home.
If your partner gets tired of standing in for you when you are grieving, your marriage will suffer.
4. Agree on the Maximum Amount of Money your will Spend in your Parent’s Funeral
When you lose a parent, it is obvious that you will be affected more than your spouse. As a result, you may not see a problem spending a big chunk of your money in the funeral arrangements.
Just like the time factor, the problem in the marriage arises not because your partner doesn’t want you to spend money in your parent’s funeral but mostly because your partner feels you are spending too much money in the funeral.
This is why it is important to agree with your partner the maximum amount of money you will spend to give your parent a sendoff.
Don’t pay a single cent before consulting with your partner. Agree on the money you will spend in the funeral even if the money is yours.
The money may be yours but remember your partner owns you.
If on the other hand it is your partner who has lost a parent, take the following steps to secure your marriage:
1. Ask if you can discuss the Above Steps
When your partner loses a parent, they can close themselves up even from you. Do not see this as strange behavior; it is normal for a grieving partner to exhibit strange behavior.
Despite the challenges you may face after your partner loses a parent, it is important that you sit down with your partner and talk about the four issues I have outlined above.
Let your grieving partner know how important it is for the two of you to discuss the issues above. Make sure you handle your partner carefully.
If your partner is not ready to talk, do not force a conversation. The goal is to get on the same page concerning the four issues discussed above.
This is why I said you need to ask. If your partner is ready to discuss, you can agree on the way forward.
2. Allow your Partner Time Alone
A grieving partner may want to spend more time on their own than usual. If your partner wants to be left alone, give them space.
Grieving takes a lot of strength which may leave your partner with no strength to relate with you. Be patient and give your partner time to mourn the parent.
3. Take up Duties of your Partner
Take up as many duties as you can from your partner. It will be great if you had already discussed with your partner on the duties you were to relieve them.
If you had not discussed, still, relieve your partner as many duties as you can. If you feel the duties are overwhelming, you can get someone to temporarily assist you with the duties.
The goal is to give your partner a conducive environment to mourn. If you create good space for your partner to mourn, they will heal faster and you will have your stability back as a couple in no time.
Apply the points discussed above with great wisdom. No two marriages are affected exactly the same when one partner loses a parent.
The steps outlined above are the general guidelines that should guide you when you don’t know what to do.
If you have a difficult time agreeing with your partner on the issues discussed, feel free to hire a marriage counselor to help you iron out the issues.
The last thing you want to do is have marital disagreements when one of you has lost a parent.
May God help you!