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Weathering the Storm Together
By: Staci Lee Schnell, M.S.,C.S., LMFT
Weathering the Storm Together
These are extremely difficult times in so many lives, as Texas recovers from Hurricane Harvey and Florida recovers from Hurricane Irma. We are concerned for loved ones in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and many others in the Caribbean as well. These hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural disasters are extremely challenging for all those directly affected by their destruction. Remember, it takes time to recover, heal and rebuild.
Couples need to work together during these stressful and trying times so that it doesn’t take a toll on their relationship. It is important for couples to manage all of the stress of the events without projecting their anger and sadness onto one another. Leaning on and drawing from each other’s strengths is key. Effective communication, including active listening are essential skills to make sure couples are turning toward one another, rather than away, in times of crises. Here are some tips for weathering these storms and traumatic times together.
Don’t allow yourselves to become overwhelmed. Share with your partner all the added responsibilities that need to be accomplished such as clean-up, dealing with the insurance company, contractors and vendors to fix damages. Don’t forget all of this is happening on top of everyday life responsibilities.
Talk through all that needs to get done. Also talking about your thoughts, fears, feelings and anxieties are all essential for keeping the lines of communication clear, open, and effective. It is also really important to validate your partner’s feelings during these trying times. Remember to let out your emotions to each other, and not to take out your emotions on one another.
Literally and figuratively giving each other pats on the back are so critical during times of crises. A simple “thank you” can go a long way in letting one’s spouse know that you are grateful to be going through this together as a team. We all need to feel appreciated and not taken for granted with all the added responsibilities and tasks.
Hugs and kisses, holding hands all can bond couples during these extraordinary times. Affection makes one feel good and reduces stress and anxiety.
Take a Break
Spend some time together that isn’t focused on the work at hand or the present crisis. Go on a date night, cuddle in bed and watch your favorite TV show, or have a game night.
Getting back to some sort of normal routine after the natural disaster when possible including bedtimes and meal planning all can help to reduce the stresses associated with the current events.
Natural anxiety reducers include eating healthfully, exercise, and a good night’s sleep. You can talk and spend time together while cooking a meal or going for a walk.
Have a sense of humor. Couples that laugh together stay together and laughter is a great stress reducer too.
Natural disasters are unpredictable and can create a great deal of stress and anxiety. These hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters are scary and challenging, but when weathered together they can strengthen a couple’s bond.