Over the past 30 days, I have gotten several relationship coaching and counseling calls from couples that needed help with their marriage crisis. Obviously, marriage is quite easy when everything is going well. But if you’ve been married long enough, you know that marriage problems can go from critical to crisis very quickly.
The different things that may constitute a crisis vary from one relationship to the next, but the way you respond to them should be similar across the board. If you respond to your marriage crisis correctly, you have a better chance at saving your marriage from divorce. Here are some simple steps you can take to respond to your marriage crisis:
1. Acknowledge that there is a problem
Many couples make the mistake of letting things go too long before they address them. This never helps your relationship. You have to find the courage to acknowledge that there is a problem in order to fix it. One of the main reasons people don’t acknowledge problems is because acknowledgement brings with it the responsibility to do something about it and that’s what most people don’t like to deal with.
2. Define what the problem is
Don’t call a sex problem a communication problem and a stepchild problem a connection problem. Be specific about what the problem is. Most couples come into therapy thinking their problems are things that they really are not. It’s like being misdiagnosed. If the diagnosis is wrong, the treatment will be misapplied and will cause more damage than help.
3. Identify the impact the problem is having on all parties involved
Tell each other how the problem is affecting you, and then discuss how the problem is affecting the children and the family. Don’t just shoot from the hip on this one. Write things down and communicate from the list. If you just simply talk about feelings without a list, the conversation will go bad really fast.
4. What are the immediate issues surrounding safety and survival?
Decide to address the immediate issues first. Ask yourselves this question, “What do I need to do, right now, to make sure our marriage survives?” Make a list of those things and do them immediately. After you do them, you will need to manage them to make sure you continue keeping the most important things first.
5. Discuss how the problem is making you feel
When you discuss how the problem is making you feel, make sure that you empathetically think about how that feeling is making you act. So when you take responsibility for the feeling, also take responsibility for the action the feeling is producing. Keep the feeling, but change the action if the action is counter-productive in making your marriage problem better.
6. Identify a corporate support system
Get neutrally trusted people behind you. People that care for both of you and want the best for both of you. This may even be a marriage counselor or pastor.
7. Plan short and long term goals to address the problem
Revisit your progress on the problem every 2-3 days. Whatever didn’t work to make things better, try to figure out what else can be done. Keep a tight schedule on revisiting the issue and measuring the success. If you lose focus of this, you will find your arguments increasing and your problem getting worse.
Forgive yourself. Forgive your partner. Then forgive again, and again, and again. Where forgiveness cannot live, marriage is sure to be lost.
BMWK – if your marriage is in crisis…take action right now towards healing it.
like what you're reading?