Marriage is designed to last a lifetime. Sadly, we all know that many marriages don’t. Some people enter their union with the best intentions but life happens, and despite efforts to stay together, things simply don’t work out. When a marriage falls apart, we all wonder what happened. Where did things go wrong? What could have helped them stay together?
Unless it’s your marriage, the truth is you will probably never know why anyone’s marriage failed. Sometimes it’s simple, but often times it’s complicated, and all we ever know is what someone tells us. However, I do know that a couple’s ability to manage the tough times has a lot to do with the longevity of their union. What you do and say in the darkest moments of your life together can have a large impact on how long your life together will last.
Most of us say that we plan to stick around for better or worse when we get married. Unfortunately, most of us are completely unprepared for the worse. When something unexpected happens that threatens the foundation of our marriage—something that shakes us at our core—we often don’t know what to do. So what happens? We panic. Many of us panic, get angry, or become depressed, and all that emotion can make us react in ways that are hurtful and harmful.
I firmly believe, however, that the ability for a marriage to recover and strengthen has a lot less to do with doing the right thing, and a lot more to do with how often we do the absolute wrong thing. And doing the wrong thing doesn’t mean we are bad people or that we don’t love our spouse. It simply means that when the going gets tough, we may not have the coping skills to manage the situation in a healthy manner. We simply may not know what to do.
Here are 5 things you should avoid doing when the going gets tough in your relationship.
Taking responsibility for our actions can be hard. When things go wrong in life, it’s so easy to blame outside forces, because the harsh reality that can come with pointing the finger at yourself is a tough pill to swallow. Whether you are dealing with financial stress, family stress, or parenting issues, remember that blaming your partner will never resolve anything. The moment an exchange begins to feel like the blame game, the other party will shut down and you won’t get anywhere. Examine the role you may have played and take responsibility for that, and allow your partner to do the same. And this goes for blaming outside forces like other people, your jobs, or your circumstances. Stop blaming and start strategizing.
When things get tough many of us tend to avoid the issue at hand. We know that talking about it may lead to a painful discussion or a fight, so we brush it under the rug and pretend the issue doesn’t exist. Issues don’t just go away, though. They stick around and patiently wait for you to deal with them. Instead of avoiding, start planning so you don’t stay in your tough spot forever.
3. Shutting Down
Shutting down is actually different than avoiding. When you avoid, you try to act like the issue doesn’t exist. When you shut down, you turn away from your partner and isolate yourself because you can’t cope with what’s going on. Shutting down isn’t only hurtful to your partner, but it’s harmful for you. When you shut the world out because an issue or a burden is too much, you are left alone with no emotional support. Being all alone during tough times might just seem easier, but it’s unhealthy and it leaves the problem in your life unaddressed.
4. Confiding in Others
There is nothing wrong with talking to close friends and family members when you are facing challenges in life. However, when your marriage is in a tough spot and you decide to confide in them instead of your spouse, it doesn’t help. You have to be able to communicate with the person you decided to spend the rest of your life with. If everyone in your life knows exactly how you feel, except for your spouse, something is seriously wrong.
So many of our challenges in life could be avoided if we assumed less and asked questions more. Remember that your spouse may be just as hurt or stressed out about a situation as you are, but they may handle things differently. You have to be mindful of that everyone has their own coping mechanism, whether it’s healthy or not. To understand what someone is thinking and feeling, you have to ask. Making assumptions based on their actions can further complicate your issues.