Consider the three scenarios below:
Two weeks ago, Krishna was laid off. His wife, Vidya, managed to find another job for him. So why do they keep snapping at each other?
Amin and Nabilah lost their four-month-old girl to cot death. They are extremely sad, but instead of crying together they fight constantly. Worse yet, when they’re not fighting, they avoid each other.
Carol and Chee Meng have always had to keep a tight handle on their budget just to pay their bills. But as the prices for petrol and food have skyrocketed, they can’t keep up. They feel helpless and have found themselves taking it out on each other.
Do any of these situations sound familiar? You might not have experienced the rather extreme examples illustrated above, but you’d know of other equally stressful interactions brought about by some form of crisis in your life as a couple.
Regardless of the type of crisis that might be affecting your marriage, you can be assured it will be accompanied by stress. And as the physical, emotional and financial strain increases, so does the likelihood of conflicts between you and your significant other.
Since very few people ever would like to fight with people they love dearly, here are five things you can do to protect your relationship and resolve the inevitable conflicts that come during a crisis:
1. Manage your stress
Taking care of yourself physically by getting adequate sleep, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can make a world of difference in how you interact with each other.
Finding a healthy emotional release – such as joining a support group, journaling, talking and spending time with encouraging friends or family – is also a positive way to work through your feelings.
2. Understand your partner’s reactions
Your spouse’s responses may be completely different from yours. Knowing this can help you reduce the conflicts that so easily develop in difficult times.
In general, women tend to cope with crisis and stress by openly expressing how they feel while men are more likely to focus on ‘being strong’ and helping others.
Women need to talk about what’s going on while men feel the need to fix the problem. Women are more likely to express sadness whereas men’s emotional reactions may look more like frustration and anger.
Be aware of how your spouse deals with crisis, and help your spouse learn about your typical reactions too.
3. Avoid blame games
When we are scared, worried or hurting, we often look for someone to blame. Pointing a finger at each other, however, will not only drive a wedge between you but will also increase the likelihood of conflicts.
Do your best to lift each other up; be gracious in both your words and deeds.
4. Steer clear of hot buttons
Certain things we do when we’re talking with our spouse can quickly escalate the discussion into full-blown fight.
These unhelpful actions may include walking out of the room, using sarcasm or bringing up a tender topic.
Knowing specifically what your spouse’s buttons are can help you avoid these throughout your marriage – especially in a time of crisis when emotions are already on edge and patience is running thin.
The key to resolving any conflict is listening and truly understanding what your spouse is trying to convey. Focus on what your spouse is saying. Take a minute to repeat what you heard to be sure you got it right. Then you can share what’s on your heart.
Many conflicts can be avoided or more easily resolved simply by taking time to listen and understand. Even though conflicts are more likely during a crisis, your relationship doesn’t have to suffer. When you resolve conflicts in a respectful and healthy way, times of hardship can actually lead you and your spouse to a deeper level of intimacy than you ever thought possible.
How do you deal with tough situations? Share your tips in the comments below or on our Facebook page!