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What Does "For Worse" Look Like?

WebMD Feature from "Redbook" Magazine

By Judy Dutton and Dana Hudepohl

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Just ask these five couples whose love passed the ultimate test....


It can happen with a phone call at 4 a.m. It can happen when your doctor says, "I have some bad news...." It can happen a week after your honeymoon, or in the middle of a deadline crunch at work, or on your way to your child's yellow-belt ceremony. Tragedy can hit, hard, anytime. And though it's romantic to think that couples can cling together and weather the storm, the reality is, many twosomes in trouble find themselves being pulled apart instead.

"Hardships highlight a relationship's weak points," says REDBOOK Love Network expert Harville Hendrix, Ph.D., author of Getting the Love You Want . "What were once small cracks get wider." Although it's human to feel angry, helpless, and very, very alone at times like these, there is an upside: Sometimes just making it through these lower-than-low relationship moments can draw you two closer. As proof, here are five couples who've been tested by trials, made it through to the other side, and whose love for each other is deeper, calmer, and stronger than ever now that they've learned what it really takes to hang in there—for better and for worse.

Five couples tell their stories:

Their love survived...his near-fatal war injury

After the U.S. declared war on Iraq in 2003, David Lofgren made a decision that his wife, Giap, still doesn't entirely understand: He volunteered to fight for his country. "I would have loved to tell him 'Don't go,'" Giap, 34, admits. But David, 45, who's spent the last 18 years serving in the Marines, felt it was his duty.

In August 2005, he kissed his wife and their four sons, ages 2 through 10, good-bye. But just two months later, while on a search for insurgents in Ramadi, David was hit with a round of gunfire in his abdomen, both legs, and one hand. "I looked down, saw the blood, and my first thought was, Please, God, let me see my wife and kids one more time before I die," David recalls. Back home in Norfolk, VA, Giap received the call that her husband had been critically injured.

"At that moment, I imagined what it would be like to never again hear him tell silly jokes to the kids or say that he loved me," Giap says. "I was scared. I had no idea where he was, how he was doing, or whether he'd live."

Flown back to the U.S., David underwent 20 surgeries in 20 days as doctors struggled to save his life. Miraculously, David's condition improved, and by January, he was allowed to return home. But life hardly returned to normal. Still stiff from his injuries and groggy from pain medication, "I was this lump," admits David. Unable to wrestle with his kids or take his wife ballroom dancing, as he'd promised before going abroad, he often felt helpless and a little humiliated. "Giap had to do everything, from dressing me to changing my colostomy bag," he says. "We used to take walks together, but it's hardly romantic if you're pushing an aluminum walker." Meanwhile, Giap often felt overwhelmed with her new responsibilities.

Recently, David admitted that one day he'd like to return to Iraq if his health permitted it. Knowing how sad he'd been watching war coverage on TV, or talking to his troops on the phone, Giap realized what her answer had to be. "I'm by no means in love with the idea, but I love him, so I'll support him no matter what," she says. David, in turn, has learned to accept that it may take a while to become the man he used to be. "In the past, I took care of Giap, but for now she takes care of me," he says. "In switching roles, we've learned new things about each other, and that's helped us grow closer."

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