Every once in awhile, something unprecedented happens and we suddenly find ourselves out of our normal routine and dealing with either minor inconveniences or extreme difficulties caused by circumstances beyond our control.
Let's think about the impact of a natural disaster such as a superstorm. During the aftermath of a storm, lives are disrupted. Most normal activities were put on hold. Families found themselves spending hour upon hour together with no one leaving for work or school and without the distractions of TV, Internet or phone. In addition, people many find themselves living with extended family and friends as they shelter together to help cope with the storm’s destruction.
Extended time together, along with limited or no essentials such as water, heat, and electricity magnifies the normal family/couple dynamics. If things are good, situations like this can help you pull together even more. If things are not so good, the additional stress can bring out the difficulties that were already brewing. Family patterns arise even more intensely under this type of stress. The same is true for couples.
If couples and families are working well together after a superstorm, it’s likely that there was harmony doing tasks like:
- finding alternate ways to cook and stay warm
- cleaning up together
- helping loved ones and neighbors and those in hardest hit communities
- identifying who is good at which task and divvying up chores
- modeling for your children resiliency, gratitude, and philanthropy
If there was discord, the tension likely got worse and included:
- more arguing
- more disagreements (about the big stuff AND the small stuff)
- emotional distance
How can we ensure that we will work together when difficulties arise and avoid breaking apart? First, we need to recognize some things that are essential in order to have harmony in marriage:
- know that your partner is different from you and value his/her strengths
- have gratitude that this person is your partner in life
- be able to ask clearly for what you want and, if your partner can’t give it, find another healthy way to get it
- take good care of yourself
- view your marriage as a source of strength, companionship, and passion rather than focusing on what’s lacking
- nurture the relationship by asking, “What does the relationship need?” as opposed to “What do I need from this relationship?”
- allow yourself to receive the love that your partner is already giving
- know that the occasional argument/hurt/anger is normal even in healthy relationships - it’s your ability to repair afterwards which makes the difference.
Experiencing hardship can strain any relationship. Learning to find harmony in these situations and in your everyday life will help you weather hardships and grow together.
To learn more or to schedule an appointment here at Couples Therapy Center, call 908-246-3074, email GetSupport@CouplesTherapyCenterOfNJ.com or go to www.couplestherapycenterofnj.com and use our online scheduler.