Out of devastation there are things to be learned to enhance your relationship.
For many of you, like me, you're still in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Clearly, the intensity of the devastation varied both in actual damage and in the time that people were inconvenienced. I was fortunate to not have any real damage. However, we did live without power for 12 days. We moved around from house to house, thanks to the graciousness of family and friends.
Whenever there's something traumatic such as this event, I try to reflect on it and see if there are certain lessons to be gained. Before I share these insights, I must continue with a little more of my personal story. Two days after regaining power, I was in my room and suddenly heard the alarm go off, signifying a loss of power ... once again! “Oh, no!” I thought, “How could this be happening again?”
I called LIPA and got what was clearly a canned recording, since they reported that the outage was called in several hours previously. Outraged, I went to my husband who told me he knew there was a LIPA truck on the block. I continued to tell him, in a rather emotional way, my intent of finding this truck and getting down to the bottom of what was going on. Admittedly, I was going on and on. Suddenly, he was chuckling at me. “Karen, the lights just went back on.” In all my emotionality, I hadn’t even noticed! Even psychologists lose it. (Sometimes, our buttons get pushed to a greater extent and these come from our past. Fortunately, there are ways to heal from this.)
Of course, in my practice, I’ve also checked in on how everyone has dealt with the difficulties during this time.
So, here are the lessons I’ve learned:
1. Emotions cloud clear thinking (I didn’t realize the lights came back on). (Certainly things from our past do this all the time, though these can be re-wired.)
2. People will put away their differences to deal with the more stressful situation at hand (as reported to me by most of my couples).
3. When the actual stressful situation is over, the residual emotions of being stressed comes out (I reacted to a small situation once the larger one was fine).
4. When something you have is taken away, it’s hard to regain a sense of trust (every time the lights flicker, I’m concerned the power is going off again).
5. Connecting with those close to us is what really counts (so many people told me that without access to a computer or TV it was really nice getting back to the basics of being with each other).
Perhaps the biggest lesson of all, and one that I always conclude when there’s something devastating that occurs is this: it is SO important to appreciate the little things in life. In this case, it was the ability to use my washing machine and microwave.
But even these are not really the essential aspects of life. Relationships and letting those you care about know that they are appreciated is really what’s important. Too often, we get caught up in the day-to-day stress of life and take our relationships for granted. It’s that type of complacency that leads to couples feeling disconnected from each other. Yet ... there’s an easy way to resolve it. All it takes is being mindful of your relationship. Make the small efforts to let your mate know that he or she matters to you. These little gestures go a long way.
So, if your relationships get stormy, remember Sandy’s lessons!