30th May 2016
Coping with Crises Within Relationships
Many couples appear to go through their daily lives untouched and unaffected by crisis and trauma. But the reality is most relationships at one point or another are challenged by the impact of a crisis which has the capability to strengthen a relationship, damage it, or even destroy it. Couples may experience considerable change due to crises as their feelings, thoughts and behaviours towards one another can undergo challenge.
While the process of ageing, retirement, or teenage children are predicable, they nevertheless have the capacity to challenge, reshape and transform your shared lives. No family member is immune to their impact, in that each person may be affected to some extent. In such circumstances many couples are drawn closer to one another as they seek the support, strength and love of the relationship to sustain them. Some couples look outside the relationship for love and support as what lies within the relationship may have become a painful reminder of the crisis.
While the process of ageing or the death of a parent is anticipated, other traumas are visited upon relationships with suddenness and unexpected twists of fate. The death of a child, serious illness, imminent redundancy, unplanned pregnancy, motor accidents and financial disaster all have the capacity to transform your world. In many cases such traumas are accompanied by feelings of shock, panic, severe distress, anxiety, fear and anger. Some critical events such as recovery from a road accident may have temporary effects, but the loss of a child is permanent. How you see yourself, your partner or your relationship may totally change, turning your world upside down. Serious questions are now asked of relationships.
Will you leave me now that I can no longer have children?
Will you still love me now that I can’t support you financially?
Will you find somebody else now that I’m quadriplegic?
How can we remain together now that we’ve lost our only child, the light of our lives?
All these issues can present enormous challenges for couples within relationships. And sometimes crises that appear to originate within the relationship may have their origin in stress and anxiety outside the relationship. This can find expression through increased conflict between partners; a decline in sexual performance; the onset of heavy drinking or excessive periods of withdrawal in one partner. The real tragedy within such crises is that the couple may not realise it’s an external event that has triggered the crisis within. Consequently some couples are unable to deal with the issues that have created the crisis.
Discuss with your partner your fears around crisis within your relationship. Identify your potential areas of challenge around crisis. Share with each other what you think your needs might be around crisis and how you could best support one another.
If you are encountering problems in your marriage/relationship or if you would like to explore unresolved relationship issues, and would like to speak to a marriage and relationship counsellor, you might liketo contact ACCORD Catholic Marriage Care Counselling Service.
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