Every marriage has its downs. That is why the traditional vows say: “for better or for worse.” The bliss of the wedding day sometimes does not even survive the honeymoon. When the crisis hits, what do you do? Surviving a marriage crisis is not only possible, it can be sometimes turned into a positive for the long term relationship because it can force you to confront and fix other relationship problems.
You need to talk.
This phrase may seem a bit overused. Communication is at the core of any strong relationship. Couples who do not talk to each other soon are no longer a couple. Because the definition of what constitutes a crisis can not only vary from couple to couple but from the partners within the relationship, talking helps frame each spouse’s take on the problem. It is only from this perspective that communication can be used to build toward restoring the trust and commitment that may have been damaged by the crisis.
Give it some time.
Very few marriage problems arise quickly. They may be revealed quickly, but they have been forming for a long period of time. Many small incidents grow into a large situation. Expecting to fix these problems rapidly is not realistic. Plan on most marriage difficulties to require months to repair. Lots of connections have to be rebuilt. The passing of time also serves to blunt the pain the crisis has evoked. It gives a chance to gain perspective into just how much damage has actually happened and what positive things still exist in the relationship.
Not all couples are able to easily discuss their problems and formulate solutions. This can be facilitated by a skilled marriage counselor. An experienced and trained counselor and offer alternatives and confront unrealistic expectations in a way that is very difficult for the partners in the relationship to do. The trick is that both partners must be willing to go to the counselor, be honest about their role in the crisis, and want to fix the relationship.
Set relationship goals.
Where do you want the marriage to go from here? This important question must not only be asked, but both spouses must agree on the same goals. A marriage is more than two people learning to get along. There are common possessions, common friendships, and perhaps children. You need to work on learning to want similar things from your future together. This may require some negotiation to arrive at the best outcome for each couple.
Do not panic.
The problem with hitting a crisis is that it is always a surprise. In a couple’s effort to avoid having more pain, bad choices can be made in the heat of the moment. Take a deep breath. Step back from the situation and choose to act and not to react to what has happened. Try not to say or do anything big until you have had time to rebound from the initial shock. Words and actions that are done from panic usually do not reflect the true way that the spouses feel about each other.
Evaluate the possible outcomes.
Consider your choices. At the beginning, put breaking up at the bottom of the list. It may become inevitable, but try not head there first and regret it later. You can always choose to leave, but coming back might be a bigger problem if you choose to later. A better plan is to make a list of you choices. Doing this together with your spouse is even better if it is possible. Look for ways to make the better choices possible. Explore these choices carefully and evaluate whether you and your spouse are willing to put in the effort to achieve them.