The Marital Mistake You’re Making When Coping with Bad News

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It doesn't matter if it's job loss, serious illness or a death in the family. When your family is faced with devastating news, it takes a toll on all parties.

And when it's your spouse that's grieving, it can be tempting to try to make light of the sh*t situation or play the role of enthusiastic cheerleader. It's only natural to want to make them feel better, right? But FYI, that approach can actually be damaging to your marriage (not to mention emotionally exhausting for both of you).

Before you put your efforts into "fixing" the situation and finding closure, take note: The best way to comfort someone who's grieving is to actually confirm his feelings of grief.

According to Jennifer Soos, MA, LMFT (who specializes in traumatic loss), it's essential to let go of the idea of closure. She says it's better to work toward “integration,” where we accept that the negative experience will become part of who we are, and try to grasp what that will look like in the future, even if it's uncomfortable. And according to psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (who pioneered the so-called "five stages of grief"), acknowledging the discomfort that comes with bad news is actually more reassuring than pretending the sun shines out of your, well, you know.

A better way to deal? Let him know you’re listening. Ask questions and check in. Show you understand the depth of his feelings, but hold back on giving unsolicited advice. It's more like, "I'm here for you if you need me," than "here's what I think."

4 Ways to Deal When You and Your Spouse Are Emotionally Exhausted


Senior Food Editor

Katherine Gillen is PureWow’s senior food editor. She’s a writer, recipe developer and food stylist with a degree in culinary arts and professional experience in New York City...