Like it or not, there are bound to be some struggles in every marriage. And just as we prepare for storms from Mother Nature, we need to prepare for storms in our personal life.
Matt Townsend tells us what to expect and how to prepare for the stormy weather at home.
Expect The Unexpected
• “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”
• Assume the storms are coming … No one is immune from the storms of life.
• It is the surprise storms of marriage that can be the most difficult, like dealing with an aging spouse, a job loss, children, or financial issues can all quickly send your marriage sideways.
• Create a spirit of protection with your partner and always be on the lookout for signs of danger. Discuss the troubles or situations other couples in your life are experiencing and learn from their experiences.
Make Sure the Relationship Cupboards are Full
• Nothing is more important in a storm than to have the supplies you need to make it through the rainy days. The same is true in love. Now is the time to begin to fill up your Relationship Cupboards with love and trust so you can use those supplies when the storm hits. We need to make sure that we have ample love stored up for the rainy days.
• We fill up our cupboards of love by consistently serving each other, loving each other their way, by sacrificing our needs for the needs of our partner, by going out of our way to grow the love instead of assuming that the cupboards will fill themselves.
Batten Down the Hatches
• People who live in tropical areas that experience a lot of storms become very adept at handling the confusion of a storm. Many of these people have homes with shutters that can be closed and locked to keep debris from the storm from damaging or entering their home. The same paradigm to safety is true in our own marriages. When the storms of life begin to hit us, we as a couple need to batten down the hatches and retreat back into our marriage, minimizing at times some of the outside chaos and influence from negatively impacting our relationship.
• Some ways to Batten Down the Hatches: Cleave unto our partner more than our parents, friends or acquaintances. Agree to seek professional help and actively follow the advice and counsel of those experts. Decrease the impact of outside influences from tv, internet, and social media that may run counter to your values. Create shared rules about how you will both deal with and focus on your biggest issues and obtain learning to help you succeed. Eliminate inappropriate relationships with people from the opposite sex, discussing personal issues that might harm our partners, or allowing other dangerous debris like pornography, drugs, or other secrets from harming the marriage.
• In the end, the sooner these “shutters” are closed in the marriage, the safer your relationship will be.
Create A Safe Space
• Every family should have a designated meeting place where they will gather at times of emergency and be able to feel safe. The same is true in marriages. We all need a safe place to fall and be together when times get tough. Keep your home, bedroom and bed a safe place where we both feel comfortable and where we can be open to share our feelings and be understood.
• In order to whether the storms, we all must know that we have a safe place to land and that every discussion won’t be an argument. One key to the safe space is called loving rituals. Loving rituals are agreed upon patterns of talking, touching and being with each other that will constantly remind each other that we are in a committed relationship. Research in marriage and family shows that couples with strong loving rituals are more inclined to weather the storms together. Some examples of safe spaces could be a regular date night together, cuddle time, bed time rituals, hello and goodbye rituals with a hug and a kiss. Each of these rituals should include a chance for both to talk openly, touch and feel connected to each other.
Establish A “High Stress” Communication Plan
• Just as you may need a plan to communicate through the storm or disaster, the same is also true when it comes to the marital storms. We must also think through how we will handle the conflict and frustrations that appear in our marriages. As part of the communication plan, we should understand exactly how to listen effectively to each other and how to manage our emotions and conversations during difficult times. These plans could include a very structured way of talking, where each person has a chance to share what they are feeling. The focus of the conversation is on understanding each other and not on arguing our points or positions.
• Creating this plan may take some outside help or classes in reflective listening, and possibly even anger management. The key to an effective conversation about difficult issues with our partner is to slow down the process and to increase the understanding of what your partner is saying. Our goal should be the spirit of understanding and not convincing the other about our position. Remember the best way to influence someone about your position is to be influenced first by their position. Use what you understand about them to help you communicate your point of view
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