Marriage Insight: Good Grief! How Differences Help Couples Grieve Together

Insights are short, biblical truths to equip you to lead from your strengths.

Healthy couples recognize that processing grief is like solving a problem. If two spouses solve problems differently, they also may grieve differently – even when they face the same situation.

grieving couple

Image: Spirit Scraps

During a season of grief, a husband and wife can affirm the other’s strengths by treating each other with care and respect. In doing so, they avoid the blame game. And they discover they are actually stronger together.

Here’s an Insight

God can use a couple’s differences to help each other heal during a season of grief.

Such was the case with Elkanah and Hannah. In Bible times, infertility marked a woman as inadequate. When Elkanah and Hannah did not conceive, each grieved a different element of that heartache.

Elkanah was already a father. He may have grieved for the children he would not have with Hannah, but scripture was clear that Elkanah’s grief was for Hannah’s hurt. In his Reflective approach to problem solving, Elkanah offered gentle, supportive comfort to his wife: “Why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?” (1 Samuel 1:8, ESV).

Meanwhile, Hannah endured attacks from the mother of Elkanah’s other children and the priest’s misinterpretation of her heartfelt prayers. Those hurts could only compound her sense of loss and isolation. Yet her desire for a son was secondary to her desire for revival in Israel. Hannah grieved her infertility but also her nation’s spiritual decline.

Elkanah patiently bolstered Hannah’s courage and strengthened her resolve. Others may have doubted her worth, but she was determined to not doubt God.  In the direct approach so typical of Aggressives, Hannah committed her future to God: “If will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life” (1 Samuel 1:11, ESV).

Grieve Differently to Help Each Other Heal

Elkanah and Hannah grieved differently, yet they treated the other with care and respect. Elkanah did not shift blame to Hannah for her inability to conceive; Hannah did not rail against her husband for the hurt inflicted on her by another.

Instead, these two acknowledged their shared sorrow and accepted the way in which the other processed grief. Elkanah’s strength? He grieved by offering comfort. Hannah grieved by remaining strong – not against her attackers – but in her faith in God.

Ultimately, God honored their faithfulness by giving them a son, Samuel, who became a great prophet and the last judge of Israel ushering in the period of the kings.

Elkanah and Hannah helped each other heal in their grief.

You and your spouse can, too.

Now How Shall I Live?

Read the ways Elkanah and Hannah grieved in 1 Samuel 1.

  • Identify the strengths exhibited by Elkanah.
  • Identify the strengths exhibited by Hannah.
  • How did God use this couple’s individual strengths to build a stronger marriage?

Powerful curriculum that equips couples to understand each others’ strengths and how those strengths work together in marriage: Different by Design

Discover and use your God-given strengths in your marriage using the Marriage Insights Profile.

More Marriage Insights

Manoah and His Wife: How Differences Help Couples Navigate High Stress Change

Zechariah and Elizabeth: How Differences Make a Strong Marriage Stronger

More Insights About Strengths

Conflict: Flip the Switch! How to Use Your Adapted Strengths to Resolve Conflict

Conflict: It Can Lead to Multiplication

Conflict: Must Two Similar Personalities Always Lead to Conflict?

Conflict: Diffuse Jealousy by Blending Strengths