Dear Dr. Buckingham,
You provide great advice to people who are hurting and I thank God for you. Unfortunately, the devil is working very hard and is having a lot of success destroying marriages. My wife and I are having some problems, but are committed to working through our challenges.
We are terrified of the potential of divorce. It hurts our hearts to see so many relationships end in divorce. We pray with and for each other, but continue to struggle in our marriage, especially after experiencing any kind of adversity. In your professional opinion, what can we do to build a resilient marriage?
God Bless, Husband In Prayer
Dear Husband in Prayer,
I thank God for men like you who are committed to saving their marriage. Relationships can be both rewarding and challenging. Unfortunately, life and love is filled with challenges and stressors.
Some individuals experience adversity in their relationships and keep moving forward, while others experience adversity and call it quits.
Resilience is best defined as one’s ability to bounce back after facing or experiencing adversity. The ability to bounce back does not occur after the adversity, but before the adversity occurs.
Here are eight ways to build a resilient marriage:
Schedule frequent get together time
Scheduling frequent “get together time” is essential to building resilience as a couple. Often, couples are consumed with the day-to-day operations of working and raising a family and they forget the importance of scheduling “get together time.”
If you feel alone before adversity occurs, you will feel alone after it occurs. Spending time together helps with feeling connected, which is needed to successfully overcome adversity.
Develop individual and couple goals
Couples who share common goals are more likely to live in harmony. Talking about individual and couple goals is critical to building resilience. We cannot always predict the storms that we will face or experience in life or love, but we can prevent some storms by developing goals.
Goal setting keeps everyone focused on what is important. It also makes you more accountable and organized. If you and your spouse plan ahead, the bounce back becomes easier.
Learn to put things into perspective
Resilient couples pick and choose their battles wisely. Ask yourself whether what you are angry about is really worth the negative energy.
Stop and ask yourself, “Will this matter five years from now?” By putting things into perspective, you can prevent unnecessary conflict with your partner.
Take care of Yourself
Practicing good self-care can prepare you to better manage stressful events rather than resorting to anger outbursts or aggressive behavior.
Self-care practices include but are not limited to maintaining a nutritious diet, getting adequate sleep every night, getting plenty of exercise, and maintaining a sustainable support system. When adversity occurs in your relationship, your ability to cope personally will make the difference it how it is resolved.
Manage your own emotions
Take responsibility for managing your own emotions. Remember that shouting or being aggressive while under stress will not improve the situation.
Take time-outs and discuss stressful issues when you and your partner are both calm. Inability to think and act rationally intensifies negative emotions under adverse conditions.
Humor has been shown to be an effective stress buster. Finding the humor in serious and otherwise stressful situations can help you to cope better as partners. Even better, learning to laugh at yourself and your spouse can lighten the mood and help put things into perspective.
View past failure as an opportunity for growth
Couples who are highly resilient commonly view past failures as opportunities for growth and development. Constantly focusing on the negative aspects of your relationship or ruminating about your past failures is highly destructive and affects your ability to solve problems objectively.
Instead, viewing your past failures as opportunities for self-examination (or self-discovery) and growth will help you in resolving conflicts and strengthening your relationship.
Focus on what you have control over
Be mindful that you only have control over your own behavior. When problems come up in your relationship, it is more productive to look at your own contribution to the problem(s) rather than pointing fingers at your partner. Focusing on what your role was or is in the conflict will empower you to take corrective steps.
As you strive to build a resilient marriage, please be willing to give just as much as you receive. Nurture resiliency in your relationship and you will have a better chance of thriving and overcoming obstacles and hardships.
Also, remember to communicate your concerns and needs. Speak your mind; don’t hold things in; listen to your partner and keep your communication lines open. If you find yourself struggling to accomplish these things, seek professional help.
If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please send an email to [email protected]
Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.