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When the fear of your spouse dying becomes toxic


Samuel Peters- (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Edifa - published on 12/23/19

How do we prepare ourselves for the inevitable without casting a shadow on our life together?

Every married couple has to come to terms with this predicament – one day death will separate the two spouses. The Damocles sword is suspended over love, no matter how great that love is.

Can the fear of death cast a shadow over the joy of married life?

The most united and loving couples are often the ones who most fear to see their happiness come crashing down. But some couples are not disturbed by it; after all, why worry about a future we cannot know? Is it not premature to worry about death before the time comes? Let us live our lives in the present moment! Some may call this attitude reckless, while others will see it as philosophical wisdom that accepts the limitations of human condition – that death as a part of life.

Yet, one day, all couples will inevitably face this existential fear head on. The unexpected death of a friend who leaves his wife and young children behind, or the sudden illness of a business partner, cruelly reminds us of this reality. So what is the best attitude? Does it consist in shutting our eyes or in living with fear of tomorrow? Maybe the most intelligent and practical attitude consists in preparing to confront widowhood without overly dwelling on it. How does one do that?

Do not turn your spouse into an idol

It is important that each person ask a question – Am I turning my spouse into an idol? That is, have they become my whole reason for living? No matter how admirable, your partner isn’t God. He or she is flawed, limited, vulnerable — and mortal. If it’s good to rely on the strength of your husband or wife, you must also realize that it has limitations. But it also highlights the important of the Holy Spirit, to which we all humbly appeal throughout our life together.

If God is truly present in your life, as the Psalmist sings, “The Lord is our rock, our fortress, our deliverer in whom we take refuge” (Ps 18), “The Lord is my shepherd who guides me along the right paths; even though I walk through the darkest valley” (Ps 23), then the future loses its tragic aspect.

The future is not just death, it is also resurrection!

God has not promised married Christians that they won’t go through suffering, a loss of a child or early widowhood; He promised He will there throughout the hard times.

So, let us stop fearing the future. Grace precedes us on the path that is ours. It is this grace that will then reveal to us that God has endowed us with unsuspected wealth that only trial and tribulations sometimes allow to perceive.

Father Denis Sonet

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