Emotional couple embracing

When life is good, being married and keeping a relationship together can sometimes seem hard enough to do. And it can especially feel impossible when you are combining two very different people with very opposite pasts.

Growing stronger as a couple

But, when life is added in, and the storms begin to swirl, it sometimes seems as though there is no way to stick together and survive the mess. Trust us though, when we say it is actually possible, and there are so many examples of couples out there with inspiring stories to share.

So often in times of crisis, when you are both experiencing incredible discouragement, pain, hurts and disappointments, it can be easy to turn against each other rather than join together and fight as a team for your marriage and for your future.

But all good things in life are worth fighting for, and we believe your marriage is on the top of that list. Because we want you to know that you aren't alone, we went straight to the source -- real life couples who walked through the fire and came out stronger and more in love because of it all.


Marnie Goodfriend

"My husband and I went through the painful and incomprehensibly complicated trauma of me testifying against the perpetrator who attacked me at knife point and raped me a decade ago.

The process was almost two years, part of it living across the country in and out of court rooms. We found a way to enjoy time with each other, to go on dates, to lean on friends and family. He respected my boundaries and supported me without question; this helped me heal and built a strong bond between us that is unshakable. I encouraged him to have guys' time to decompress and escape for a while so it did not consume us 24/7. Now I know that whatever life brings us, we know how to lift each other up and give each other the support -- and space -- vital to a happy and healthy relationship." - Marnie Goodfriend

Illness/ depression

"When I was battling my postpartum depression, my husband was one of the few that stood by me. He held me and strengthened me through one of the worst times in my life. Without his support and dedication to his vows, I'm not sure we could've made it. But he stuck with me, took me at my worst, and now we've made it through stronger than before." -Amanda Popp

Facing fears

"It's incredible when they look you in the face while you are conquering a fear, and stand behind you and push you through to the finish. God's given the strength to both of you, and sometimes for him, it's the strength to support, and to you the strength to allow them to help." -Sheryl Wingate


"I have had several couples in my practice who said their marriages were stronger, closer and more loving after dealing with an affair. It wasn't ever easy, and it wasn't often pretty, but watching couples use an affair as a wakeup call to transform their relationships, instead of a reason to end them, has been an incredibly rewarding part of my career." -Shelby Riley, MFT

Tips for growing closer

In talking more with Shelby Riley, Marriage and Family Therapist, we asked if she could share some tips for couples on how to grow closer through trials:


Most people in crisis need someone to be calm, safe and somewhat directive. Ask your spouse if they want a safe person to vent to, or if they want actual advice. Depending on the level of crisis, some people really do need suggestions about how to proceed, but I think it's important to ask permission to give advice before giving it. Often people interpret advice giving as a message that they are weak or stupid and can't figure things out for themselves.


Being a safe partner means being calm and curious. Don't let your emotional reactivity allow you to act in a stressed, judgmental or anxious way. Soothe your own reactivity so you can be present, calm and soothing for your partner. Ask questions from a place of curiosity: "Tell me more about why you're worried about that" rather than a place of judgment: "Why in the world would you do that?"


The other helpful thing a spouse can do is help to give their partner perspective: This feels like a crisis and it is really important, but will this impact our lives 10 years from now? Ten months from now? Ten weeks from now? Holding respect for the problem while offering to strip away the catastrophe aspect of crisis situations can help your spouse get calm and think things through in a different way. Lastly, offering up your unconditional love and support can go a really long way.

Most importantly, we believe that if we can just remember the reasons we came together as a couple, and cling to that passion we had in the beginning to fight for them and for the marriage, you too can come out stronger and more in love than ever before.

And hopefully, through the pain, there will be a lesson and a beauty that you can then share with others in your life.

For more marriage relationship advice

Celeb marriage mentors
How to grow as a couple
Valuable relationship skills


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Comments on "How to come together as a couple during a crisis"

Francisca August 11, 2012 | 7:39 PM

Marital counseling will only work if BOTH praites want it to work. The fact that he has moved out to be with another woman sounds to me as if he's not interested in resolving whatever issues there were that prompted him to not only cheat on you with a mistress over two years ago, but to move completely out of your life and the marital home. I would think that you'd have consulted with an attorney by now and moved toward severing your relationship with him as he has done with you and then resolved the financial issues that need to be addressed. Then you can move forward with your life and find a man that is going to be there with you for the long term. Counseling will only work individually if he believes this his ways are wayward as hyou think they are. Obviously he doesn't agree with you.

Emily June 04, 2012 | 5:02 PM

I agree with Emma, tip #1 states to ask your spouse if they're looking for advice or just venting. I have the tendency to always give advice, which sometimes leads to a fight. I'm going to make it my goal to listen first, and then ask if he wants advice or just needed to vent. I can then support him emotionally if he was just venting instead of telling him how to fix it.

Emma June 01, 2012 | 3:50 PM

I love the advice in tip # 1: Ask your spouse if they want a safe person to vent to, or if they want actual advice. I think this is very practical and something we all struggle with. Sometimes, we genuinely want advice. Other times, we just need to vent and talk it out. Talking helps me process through difficult situations and what to do next!

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