What Does "For Worse" Look Like?
Their love survived...the death of their child continued...
Jade passed away on February 4, 2000. For months afterward, her parents
wandered around in a fog, visited Jade's grave daily, and tried to move on. By
springtime, though, as their son's baseball league started up, Irvin was
cheering from the stands. Jessica, however, still felt like she was going
through the motions, and resented Irvin's ability to enjoy life a little.
"One morning I was so upset I was pounding on the walls," Jessica
recalls. "Irvin asked, 'What's wrong with you?' in a tone that suggested he
was mad at me. And I was mad at him for being so low-key. He was stoic."
Irvin had had his rough moments, too—he once broke down during a routine
checkup when his doctor simply asked, "How are you doing?"—but he felt
the best way to honor Jade was to get things back to normal. "I missed my
wife, and wanted to make up for lost time," says Irvin, 39. "It was
frustrating to have a good day, then get the life sucked out of me as soon as I
walked in the door."
In 2002, the Franklin, TN, couple was dealt another blow when 3-year-old
Jillian developed the same disease. Jessica was terrified for her marriage as
well as for her daughter. "I'd heard the statistics about divorce rates
among couples who'd lost a child, much less two," Jessica says. "It
prompted me to ask a friend's prayer group—they'd been praying for Jillian—to
pray for me and Irvin, too." The group suggested the Pasleys try a therapy
retreat to reconnect. The couple was surprised to find it helped immensely,
teaching them to appreciate each other's unique coping skills. (Another reason
to rejoice: Jillian's prognosis has since improved.)
"We had already lost our child and our dream of what our family was
going to look like," says Jessica. "Were we going to lose each other,
too? No. We explored every possible option to save our kids. Our marriage
deserves that, too."
Their love survived...unemployment
Anne Crowley and Michael Hall had high hopes for their future when they
moved from Washington, DC, to San Francisco in 2001 to open a new branch of the
architecture firm where they both worked. But a year-and-a-half later, their
fast-track careers derailed when a dispute between Michael and their boss
forced them to resign. Faced with scarce job opportunities, steep living
expenses, and two young children at home to provide for, the couple found
themselves fighting about money—constantly.
"He'd want to spend two bucks on a coffee and I'd argue we should make
it ourselves," says Anne, 40. For Michael, 41, who'd agreed to look for a
job while Anne stayed home with the children, the pressure to solve their
financial crunch was often just too much to take. "Sometimes I'd come home
exhausted and she'd want to vent about her day, and I'd have to tell her, 'I
can't handle your stress right now. I'm all filled up,'" Michael says.