Crises can sometimes bring about unwelcome challenges to the harmony and wellbeing of loving relationships. Even very stable relationships endure painful change that impacts on their outer and inner worlds. Depending on your circumstances, you are perhaps challenged to deal with the cancer; mourn the loss; rebuild your career; accept the poverty, while simultaneously adjusting to the emotional, cognitive and behavioural changes that have shattered your world. But while recovery from crises is frequently painful and life changing, there is much you can do to help and support one another cope.
Through shared communication you can describe to each other how this event has changed your lives, outlining your fears and vulnerabilities. By focussing on your experiences, thoughts and emotions you can connect with the supports you need from each other. Within this approach you can reflect together: “what is it that we fear will happen, and what islikely to happen.” In this manner you can manage the scenario ofunlikely eventualities.
Avoiding the pitfall of negativity and blame is crucially important in coping with crises. Blaming and scapegoating achieve no useful purpose as they project the burden of responsibility onto your partner.
“If you had allowed me to meet with the bank last month, we wouldn’t have lost our home.”
“If you hadn’t called in to see your mother, we wouldn’t have had the accident.”
Internalising the blame is equally futile as the weight of responsibility and guilt can distort you emotionally and mentally from seeing the crisis as it is.
“How can I make love to you when our son is lying motionless in his hospital bed?”
“How can I go out to work or see anybody when I destroyed my family financially?”
Couples who are proactive in dealing with life’s peaks and valleys have an advantage within crisis situations in that they can find the positive within the most negative of experiences. This can represent itself through attitudes like:
“Let’s all do something joyful together as a family this weekend.”
“Although our daughter is lying in a hospital bed, she is receiving the best medical care and the best chance of recovery.”
Many couples deal with crises with the support of family members and trusted social groupings. By reaching out to loved ones and close friends, couples can unload the burden of grief, anxiety that has afflicted their shared existence. Within such tragic circumstances greater bonds of family and friendship can alleviate the pain of crisis and facilitate a time of healing for couples.
Outline to each other the steps you might take when confronted with crisis. Discuss together the supports you might need in time of crisis.
If you are encountering problems in your marriage/relationship or ifyou would like to explore unresolved relationship issues, and wouldlike to speak to a marriage and relationship counsellor, you might liketo contact ACCORD Catholic Marriage Care Counselling Service.
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