When Crisis Hits: Navigating Sudden Marital Problems
Sudden crisis in a marriage can put an incredible strain on the relationship between husband and wife. This is because in moments of crisis, spouses expect emotional support from each other and the absence of such support can cause marital problems and affect the overall health of the relationship.
A crisis can be anything that is sudden and major. Typical crises include things like getting a poor medical diagnosis, experiencing a mental or emotional breakdown, discovering a spouse has an addiction, sickness or loss of a child, death in the family and so on. A crisis can also be something like being threatened with foreclosure or having a terrible car wreck.
Responding to the Need
If a marriage is strong, the odds are the husband and wife will give each other the emotional support needed to survive the crisis. A couple that communicates well will be able to address the crisis in terms of how to handle or solve the problem. The best response to a crisis is one that offers a plan of action that is realistic. For example, when your husband is diagnosed with cancer you become his home support system during recovery.
It is too bad but some couples collapse emotionally during a crisis. They not only have a hard time handling the chain of events related to the crisis, but blame their partner for the problem or lack of emotional support. A lot of finger pointing can go on which only makes the problem worse. Everyone is different and so will respond differently to a crisis. But the last thing you want is one spouse pointing a finger at the other and making him or her feel small and unwanted during the time of crisis.
A healthy marriage is a solid marriage that is prepared to response to need during a crisis. When a crisis hits in a marriage, there will be different emotions a person experiences. There may be denial, acceptance, anger, disbelief, guilt or despair to name a few. Some people withdraw within themselves while others display raw emotions. During a crisis there are also people who become virtually immobile and can’t make a decision because they are so emotionally overwrought. Others can handle a crisis in an organized manner.
Within the marriage how one spouse reacts to the other during a time of crisis can make the difference between whether the marriage survives or disintegrates. It is not unusual to discover people who were divorced after a crisis because they came to believe the crisis would always be a wedge between them. On the other hand if a couple works together as a team to handle the crisis there is much less chance the marriage will be damaged.
It is important to understand that no two people will react the same to a crisis. But you can each express your emotions in your own way and still provide mutual support. You should never minimize someone’s feelings. Just because you are not grieving as much as your spouse, for example, doesn’t mean your spouse is overreacting.
A crisis can either bring a couple closer together or tear the marriage apart. Worse is the fact that some people continue the marriage but are never the same after the crisis. They begin to live an emotionally drained life that has no joie de vivre.
Many couples seek counseling when a crisis hits. It only makes sense to get professional help because some issues are just too difficult to handle alone. The counselor can help in two ways. First the professional counselor can help a person manage the normal emotional reactions to a crisis. Second the counselor can assist a couple with learning how to provide mutual support and understanding.
A crisis in a marriage can turn into a whole set of marital problems if either spouse feels abandoned emotionally or physically. During the crisis you need to keep the communication lines open, be sensitive to your spouse’s need and show a lot of love and patience.
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