Can Bad Times Bring out the Best in Your Relationship?

This week on The Today Show, Jim and Bernadette Tobin told their story of marriage, divorce and remarriage. They are an example of how sometimes life’s great trials bring us greater joy than we could have imagined. With many of the couples I’ve interviewed, major obstacles were the impetus that improved their marriage.

The Tobins married very young (just out of high school), and he worked two or three jobs while she stayed at home with the kids. They found themselves drifting apart over the years, and after the children left home, they felt they didn’t have much left. Jim regrets that he didn’t take the time to really get to know his wife or children back then. They divorced after 27 years together. Then, after seven years of living apart and even dating others, Jim became desperately ill and needed a kidney transplant to survive.

Bernadette saw how much he enjoyed being with his children and grandchildren and wanted him to have a chance at life. It turns out she was a good match, and she generously donated a kidney to save his life. That act caused Jim to feel more loved than he had ever been before. They recuperated together and eventually moved in together to save money. Over a long 10 years, they grew to realize the love they still had for one another and decided to remarry. This time, they really listened to and appreciated their vows. About the words “In sickness and in health,” Jim says, “When you’re 22, 23 years old, you don’t listen to those words. But this here, you really listen to the words and respect the words, and know that it’s forever in your heart.” 1

Today, they truly appreciate and know one another’s hearts, something they didn’t understand in their youth. It turns out their hearts, as well as their kidneys, were a good match.

The take-away I feel from this story is to take the time to know your partner’s heart and desires as a priority in your life. Is there a way you can make your spouse feel truly loved this week? And, if you are facing a tough obstacle, don’t treat it as insurmountable. Instead, allow it to bring you closer to those you care about.

Do you have a story of something negative that brought you closer to your partner? I’d love to hear about it.


1 The Today Show

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