5 Strategies Couples Should Embrace To Survive Crisis

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5 Strategies To Surviving Crisis As A Couple

We are going through an unprecedented crisis right now. Many people are wondering how couples survive when times are as tough as these.

And while these are particularly challenging times, couples are often faced with several crises over the course of their relationship. Jobs are lost, kids get in trouble, parents get old, cars are crashed… The list goes on.

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With each and every crisis, couples have to navigate the murky waters that accompany them and try to help each other stay afloat.

When it comes to surviving times of crisis, it's important for couples to keep a few things in mind.

Here are 5 strategies couples should embrace to survive a crisis.

1. Don’t stop talking.

One thing that couples tend to really struggle with is communication.

Remember at the beginning, when you would stay up until all hours of the night, sharing your history and your hopes and dreams? And now, after a certain amount of time together, healthy communication has to a large degree slowed down.

Instead of talking about what each other wants or needs, couples tend to sink into themselves.

Women often want their partners to know what they need without having to tell them. Men often have no idea what their partner needs, and therefore, are hesitant to try anything for fear of being wrong.

When considering how couples survive during times of crisis, it's important that couples make an effort to communicate with their partners. Not only expressing their wants and needs, but also to talk to each other like human beings.

When communication stops, it can be hard to start up again. Keeping the lines of communication open will allow each person to know that their person is there for them if they need them to be, and to know that they can be there for their partner in turn.

Surviving crises can be difficult as a couple, but if lines of communication are kept open, getting through them can often be easier as a team.

2. Respect each other’s feelings.

I remember at the beginning of this COVID-19 crisis my partner and I had very different needs.

I needed to read everything about it that I could and share it out loud. My partner didn’t want the constant updates because they were stressing him out. But because he's patient with me and loves me, he didn’t tell me that my updates were stressing him out.

Fortunately, one day he wasn’t able to hide his feelings of anguish and I saw what my words were doing to him. So, I stopped updating him and still indulged my need to know everything. Silently.

Things don’t always work out this way. Oftentimes, a couple’s needs are so diametrically opposed to each other that they're completely incomprehensible to the other person.

I have heard stories of couples who have lost children and were driven apart because of each other’s modes of grieving. They just couldn’t understand what the other was doing, causing resentment and further anguish.

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It's important to notice as I did, or ask your partner what they need in a crisis. What works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for the other. And vice versa.

If you can respect what your partner needs, and in turn share your own needs, you're more likely to be a model of how couples survive in a crisis — not one of many whose relationships just don’t make it through.

3. Don’t be selfish.

Many relationships have certain patterns that make their relationship special.

Whether it’s foot rubs in front of the TV, always being responsible for the laundry, or getting up early to walk the dog, there are things that people do for each other to make them feel loved.

Often, the first thing that falls to the side during times of crisis is those patterns. Someone who used to do the dishes every night no longer does so because that is when the family comes together on a Zoom call to discuss their mother’s illness.

Or, perhaps you no longer get foot rubs in front of the TV because your partner is exhausted from looking for jobs all day.

It's important that if these things are happening, you try not to get selfish and resentful. Of course, you have needs, things that you have always received, and need to feel loved. But try to understand that during times of crisis, those things might fall to the side.

I know that it’s hard to do — to stay strong when your small needs aren’t being met. But know that most likely it’s only temporary and after this period of time has passed, things will go back to normal.

4. Take care of yourself.

The flip side of not being selfish is to take care of yourself. If your needs aren’t being met by your partner, it's important that you practice self-care.

If your feet aren’t getting rubbed at night, perhaps learn self-massage, or get a massage when it's safe and viable to do so. If you're left with the dishes, build some time into your evening, and know that it won’t be forever.

If you have to walk the dog, perhaps do so with a friend so that you can chat away without guilt for an hour. These patterns might be missing now, but they won’t be forever.

If you don’t make an effort to take care of yourself during times of crisis, you'll find yourself full of resentment with your partner, resentment about being ignored and left behind during hard times.

You need to love and care for yourself so you can stay strong, both for your health and the health of your relationship.

5. Get help.

Finally, if you find that you and your partner are circling the drain during this difficult time, it would be a good idea to get help.

A therapist or life coach will be able to help you deal with these problems. Many couples really struggle with them, and having a professional help you can make all the difference.

If you find yourself pulling away from your spouse, it's important that you understand that this disconnect might cause irreparable damage, so get ahead of it. Ask for some help. You will be glad you did!

When you look around and wonder how couples survive during times of crisis, do you wonder if it’s just you? Is it just your relationship that doesn’t seem strong enough to get through this?

I can promise you that you're not alone. Many couples really struggle when faced with difficult life experiences, but many of them are successful at coming out on the other side.

Make sure you keep the lines of communication open and ask what each other needs. Respect those needs without resentment, try to put your own needs second, and yet take care of yourself at the same time. And if all else fails, get some help!

You and your partner can get through this. I know you can. And if I can help, let me know.

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Mitzi Bockmann is an NYC-based, certified life and love coach. Let her help you find, and keep, love in this crazy world in which we live. Email her today and get started!

This article was originally published at Let Your Dreams Begin. Reprinted with permission from the author.