We all know now, just a few months after the start of COVID-19, that the Wuhan authorities missed the boat on preventing this pandemic.
Every day, couples encounter situations where they try to clean up and keep their partners from finding out.
You have much to learn about how to save your marriage and prevent disaster by understanding how COVID-19 began and how things were allowed to snowball out of control.
A relatable scenario
Consider this story: Kevin was driving home from work, focusing on a complex problem that arose. His head over-focused on how he might have done things differently; he barely noticed the stop sign on his usual route home.
Luckily, a car coming from the other direction noticed his lack of attention and was able to hit the brakes. But not soon enough. The other car crashed into the front tip of the car, bending the front right-hand side of the car.
Rather than wanting to alert his insurance (or Kelly his wife), Kevin decided to settle the other car expenses on his own. He took the car to his usual garage. The garage said it would take a few days to put right and lent him one of their cars in the meantime.
Kevin was concerned about how Kelly would react to this accident, so he decided to pay everything in cash and tell her that he and a work colleague swapped for a few days as his colleague needed a larger car.
Naturally, Kelly found out about the fiasco as fate would have it. The work colleague’s wife, Sharon, bumped into her at the supermarket. As one lie rolled into another, Kevin found himself in a heap.
This cover-up is similar to what happened with the discovery of Covid-19 in Wuhan. We now know the cover-up sparked a national disaster that later led to an international pandemic.
Similarity between Wuhan cover-up and marital pitfalls
1. Losing face/Shame- Feelings of shame wasthe first thing that got in the way of dealing with Covid-19 in an up-front way. When shame sweeps us away, it blocks our ability to take responsibility.
As shame floods our system, we can’t think rationally. Our brain gets hijacked, and we lose all sense of reality.
2. False Hope: The Wuhan authorities simply hoped that if they didn’t report anything about Covid-19, it would go away, despite the rising numbers and all the facts Dr. Li Wenliang pointed out.
3. Thinking things will resolve themselves on their own: This isa part of wishful thinking. It’s a result of having false hopes.
4. Sweeping facts under the rug: The combination of shame and false hope led the Wuhan authorities to sweep everything under the rug, once again hoping things would simply resolve themselves.
5. Short term thinking: It feels too painful to consider how something a little bit painful if left unattended, can grow into something insurmountable.
What makes us ignore the small pains is this very thought. By ignoring what was happening at the moment, the Wuhan authorities missed the big picture.
6. Failing to see the big picture: We are living the aftermath of missing the boat. Ignoring taking care of the short term, immediate pain.
Of course, had the authorities taken the messages seriously, and looked at the facts sooner, they could not only have prevented a national epidemic but an international pandemic.
7. Dealing with this on their own: The Wuhan experts initially decided to deal with this on their own. They only turned to the World Health organization once things got out of hand.
Had they consulted the WHO immediately, it is largely possible COVID-19 could have been better contained and not spreading to the rest of the world.
Rather than jumping onto those hurt feelings and allowing them to bring you down, the best thing to do to save your marriage is to take a step back, calm your nerves and see what the situation requires.
3. Find out what caused the problem
Most couples get into the blame game when they have a challenge to overcome.
In the example above, at first blush, you might jump to the conclusion that Kevin is to blame for getting into the car accident and hiding the damage from Kelly.
You can see how Kevin chose to hide the accident from Kelly as she petrifies him when you get to know them and their dynamic. He walks on egg-shells around her when she is disappointed about something he did wrong. Kelly gets very angry when things go even slightly askew.
Over the years, Kevin has learned that the best way to deal with mistakes he makes is to hide, rather than deal with them head-on.
Even though he always gets found out, he has lived in the hope that somehow each time, things will be different.
By zooming out and seeing the bigger picture, it makes more sense why Kevin would feel so much stress and why Kelly may not understand Kevin’s decision to hide things from her.
Hiding and getting found out is not a workable solution for anyone. We’ve all seen this first hand with Corona.
By pausing, creating a safe space for each to hear, and be heard, you can get to the heart of the matter, prevent things from spiraling out of control, and save your marriage.
4. Consult authorities and experts
When we are in a mess, it’s hard to understand how things got so massively out of control. We get too close to the problem, and things get personal.
This is how the feelings of shame and guilt take over and cause us to do stupid things. The more we get an outside perspective, the wiser we will be.
Also watch: What we might learn in couples therapy.
5. Do damage control
While chores and talking about the mundane stuff is not hot on our to-do list, by checking in for regular discussions, we won’t fall behind in the grunt work that needs to be dealt with.
Once the problem has gotten out of hand, there is little we can do to reel it back in.
Often the damage that results from leaving a problem too long is so all-encompassing, we don’t know where to start to get things under control.
This is what makes people decide to “suddenly” get divorced. The marriage didn’t disrupt suddenly. The couple just let the challenges pile up instead of dealing with them as they arose. They never learned the tools and skills they needed to deal with challenges in the first place.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Micki Lavin-Pell, MFT, has been working with individuals couples and familys for nearly 20 years. She works with individuals to help them learn about what they would like to offer a relationship and what they most need for themselves in order to find the most suitable partner. She also works with couples in a relationship heading to marriage to help deal with triggering issues that can get in the way of their love. Micki also provides marriage education training for engaged couples utilizing the Prepare Enrich Program. She uses Emotionally Focused Couples therapy as her therapeutic tool combined with Imago. She also provides Trauma therapy and has completed the Advanced level of training in Somatic Experience therapy. Micki is a member of the Israeli Association for Family Therapy, and ICEEFT as well as Get Help Israel.