The volunteers told her that men want to feel as if they are fixing a problem. Mowing the lawn twice in such a short time made her husband feel as if he was "solving" the problem of the hurricane. They recommended to the woman that she find something her husband could do with his hands. So she arranged for him to repair generators.
Men also tend to be more physical about dealing with trauma whereas women are more emotional. One of the couples I interviewed for The Indestructible Relationship was Meryl and George. Their son Danny died of a heart condition when he was 11. When Meryl discovered Danny had passed away, she wept. George, however, hit the door with his fist.
2. Let your partner heal at his or her own pace.
If you are still recovering emotionally from a disaster while your significant other has healed, you are going to discover that your sweetie is no longer an outlet for voicing your fears. Your partner may also become frustrated that he or she is healed while you're still grieving.
It's inevitable that people heal at different paces. In communities after natural disasters, research has shown that residents eventually tire of hearing about the catastrophe. About four weeks after the Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco, for instance, t-shirts emblazoned with "Thank you for not sharing your earthquake experience" appeared throughout the city. Those t-shirts were created by people who had already moved past their trauma and who could not understand why others still needed to talk about the quake.
For couples post-disaster, the best solution is to realize that everyone reacts to stress differently. Rather than thinking or saying, "Get over it already," you can accept that your loved one is moving at a different emotional pace than you are and that he may even be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Be patient and supportive.
3. Treat your sweetie like a stranger.
As time unravels after a natural disaster, it can help to treat your significant other as if he is a stranger. Why? Because when we're under stress, we often treat strangers and our neighbors better than the people who live with us.
After Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida, members of the community were eager to help each other survive the disaster's aftereffects, generating a feeling of goodwill. Surprisingly, this feeling of goodwill lasted longer between neighbors than between family members. About a year after the hurricane, residents felt as if they were closer to their neighbors than they were before the storm, but they were having more problems with their families.