I was pretty surprised to hear from a good friend of mine that she feared “her marriage was on the rocks.” Sitting at the clerks office in Parker County waiting on my client, I responded to the text and asked “what’s going on?”

A few years ago, I had received a text from Julie asking me to bring her a pack of cigarettes to a rehabilitation center in Fort Worth. I wasn’t told my friend couldn’t walk after a back surgery and was completely shocked to see her in a wheelchair waiting for me to arrive on my way back from TDCJ Scott Unit. Julie explained that the surgery had left her unable to walk. Changes to her marriage occurred overnight. She could no longer work or drive. She could no longer live the life she had once known.

I met Julie about fifteen years ago at work. I was a successful salesperson and she worked in the office. She had confided to me that she had very few work clothes. I loaded up my backseat and brought her clothing. A few months later, her vehicle had broken down and she needed help covering the repair cost, I gave her the money. Throughout my life I’ve always been a giver. It was odd for Julie to request a pack of cigarettes but I didn’t question it.

In my opinion, if someone is asking for something, it wasn’t easy for them to ask. Julie’s husband was home converting a ramp in order to be able to get her wheelchair in and out of their home. It was difficult for me to hide my shock at seeing her wheelchair bound. I knew the road ahead would be difficult. My twin sister didn’t walk for nearly two years after her botched back surgery. One day she was fine the next after waiting on back surgery, my sister was in a hospital bed in the living room. I remember picking up her daughters and telling them they would be staying with me. Cindy was unable to work or care for her kids. For two years I wondered if my sister would ever walk again.

After reading Julie’s text about problems in her marriage and being preoccupied, my client tapped on my window. I would have to call Julie back.

Once I had returned to my vehicle I decided to text Julie rather than call. My reasons were many. Julie and her family had been evicted from her home. She, her husband and her young daughter were living with her husbands parents now. Things have been difficult for Julie’s family since her back surgery. Very difficult.

I sent “I’m not sure you’re alone and can talk so if you can, call me. If you can’t, text me.” A few minutes later, the text read “Jim doesn’t show me any affection anymore. He avoids me. I don’t think he loves me anymore.”

This was serious. After having to move back in with her husbands parents, depression had set in along with anxiety and quite possibly anger at her situation. Julie works hard at physical therapy. She tries to stay positive and motivated but in her situation and with all of the changes she’s had, I can see why she might be angry. I can understand why being positive might be difficult.

Julie never expected to walk into surgery and come out in a wheelchair.

Her husband believes that she is depressing to be around and angry. Overcoming the obstacles in this marriage (in my opinion) will require counseling. I quickly research sliding scale or free counseling in the area and suggest Julie contacts several numbers I send to her and work on spending time with her husband and getting back to enjoying in one another’s company.

Today Julie sent a text that she had found a counselor and scheduled an appointment. Communication is going to be key to finding a way to cope. Julie lost her job due to her inability to walk. Eventually she also lost her home. It’s hard to remain positive and sunny in the situations and circumstances my friend has found herself in. I remain hopeful that Julie and Jim can get back to being in love and partners as they were prior to the surgery that forever changed their lives.

My niece, Leigh Ann has been having issues with her husband, Alex who she thinks “acts different when he’s with his mom.” Alex is in Florida as his mom is having eye surgery. He’s there to take care of her. The animosity my niece feels towards her mother in law is wholly and entirely unfounded. Janet is an amazing mom and the sweetest mother in law one could hope for. I just can’t understand why Leigh Ann has consistently had issues since I married her and Alex with Janet. Alex is an only child and as mother to an only child myself, I can understand why she wants to keep a close relationship with her son and only grandchild, Madyson. I wish I could convince Leigh Ann to be a friend rather than a foe to her mother in law without being accused of taking sides but Cindy and I have tried for years to build a bond between Leigh Ann and Janet. Leigh Ann continuously finds something to be upset about. Alex is the “man in the middle.” Ugh.

I wish I could get Leigh Ann to go to marriage counseling to overcome her competition with Janet but the very idea brought an eye roll. Leigh Ann was brought up with two mom’s, Cindy and I. Alex was brought up with one mom, Janet. The bond of a mother and son is important. I keep saying this.

It’s been a tough year for many couples. It’s been difficult for these couples to find positive ways to communicate. I’m hoping that Julie and Jim as well as Leigh Ann and Alex can find a common ground to resolve issues and work together going forward.

I suspect that Julie is struggling with Complicated Grief Syndrome. Grief can and does take many forms. The loss doesn’t have to be death. The loss can be any type of loss. Job loss. The loss of being able to walk. The loss of your home. Loss is loss.

Marriage is a merger. It merges families and backgrounds. Marriage has no guarantees. Your partner can lose their job. Your partner can lose their mobility. Your partner can lose Hope.

Learning to help your partner through a health crisis can and will put a sprain on your marriage. No one expects job loss or illness when planning a wedding. They should. “For better or worse. For richer or poorer.” Think about it…