What Does "For Worse" Look Like?
By Judy Dutton and Dana Hudepohl
Just ask these five couples whose love passed the ultimate
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
"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
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
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