Crisis comes in so many forms - a health issue for one of you or someone close to you, a natural disaster that impacts you both, a job loss or financial hardship, the loss of a loved one. These crises are all part of normal life and and are inevitable.
Learning how to support each other through crisis - be it a shared one or one that impacts your partner more than you, is a critical skill to support your relationship.
How you cope, how you process and how you try to move through a crisis is highly likely different from how your partner does.
Some of us jump to logic and fixing.
Some of us feel first and need to express raw emotions.
Some of us just go numb for a while.
There are so many ways to react - each impacted also by how full your resource tank is when the crisis hits. The truth is, each different way has some value to the person using them, even if the value is short-term. Sometimes shutting down or repressing emotions short-term let’s us get through what we need to do. (Long-term this strategy can trigger depression, isolation, etc.)
So, when crisis hits what strategies will help your partnership?
1. Learning to really hear each other.
This can be difficult when the crisis impacts us too. Really hearing your partner during a crisis takes the skill of pausing your own needs in that moment to listen. Pausing to ask open-ended questions and to listen without interjecting your own opinion, your solutions or your critique. Way easier said than done! Powerful though!
2. Helping each other separate out the emotional responses from decision making.
Sometimes we jump to reactive decisions that are not the best decisions. Helping each other to really express emotions as thoroughly as possible and seeing that as a separate process from making decisions is very productive. Help each other grieve - and that may look really different for each of you. It may look like anger, sadness, etc.
3. Making use of pen and paper.
If decisions have to be made at a high emotion time it is wise to slow that process down by documenting options. A spreadsheet may work just as well but sometimes the act of writing on paper seems to slow stuff down too which can allow for the emotions and strategy to settle out a bit. If appropriate, use pros and cons or other decision making and evaluation tools together. One of you may need this more than the other. One of you may be good at this part while your partner is better at staying with the emotions.
Work to your strengths and know and acknowledge what you need. Crisis is messy. It also can be a powerful opportunity to really love each other well. Being deeply and compassionately cared for during a really tough time is SO POWERFUL!
So, I wish for you seasons of peace and ease but I dream for you skills to navigate the hard times and come through them stronger together!
Until next time,
Marilyn, The Luv Life Coach.