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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.

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