On February 14, 2018, one of the worst school shootings happened 15 minutes away from my house, less than 5 minutes away from my daughter’s high school and 15 minutes away from my private practice in Boca Raton.
Since then, a lot of my free time had been dedicated to providing pro-bono services to service teens, teachers and parents. I also became a board member of a non-profit organization to help support the community. In March, my husband and I closed on our new house and were in the process of moving. The weekend we got the keys was also the weekend two deaths by suicide happened in Parkland.
Why am I telling you all this?
Well, having two little kids (under 4), being a therapist in a community that had been affected by such a tragedy, and relocating your home all at the same time can definitely create hardship in any relationship, and ours was no different. During such times there are things to do in your relationship to survive tough times.
Surefire ways to sustain your relationship when times get tough
There were some tough moments, struggles and disagreements on how to manage our time and deal with the different aspects of our lives. This brings me to the topic of this blog – How healthy couples handle tough times?
In my opinion, the first thing you have to recognize is the relationship is daily work.
If you want to have a strong, positive relationship with your significant other you have actively work for it daily.
Some people may say to themselves now – daily? Yes! Daily! The short explanation to this statement is that if each party in the relationship makes sure they are ensuring to meet their partner’s needs so they are happy with unconditional love and support then there is no reason both parties wouldn’t be the happiest they could be, right?
I found this great article here, but here are some tips I found helpful during our difficult times.
I know it is easier said than done, but if you stay consistent with some of these practices I believe you can overcome anything and it will just make you a stronger couple! These are effective ways to overcome a rough patch in your relationship.
The two Dr. Gottman wrote a lot of research about this topic as well.
1. Active listening
Some of us truly take listening for granted and miss out on a lot of what can help the relationship. When you are not listening to your partner, things can become way more complicated and frustrating and can cause things to escalate further.
2. Holding space for one another to have a moment of breakdown
Ideally, we should attempt to stay calm and patient toward our partner.
However, when under stress, at times one or both partners may have a need to lose their temper and composure. This is not ideal, but we are all human and can break under stress at times.
Make an effort to be understanding and supportive when that happens. Try to be the water, when you feel your partner is the fire. Forgive if necessary and do not hold grudges and admit when you are wrong.
3. Offer/Ask for help
Asking for help from our partners (and even extended family) during difficult times can make things easier. Letting your partner know you are having a hard time may allow them the opportunity to be more understanding and patient. Recognizing you are in crisis can help the communication regarding it. Communication is key in general.
4. Date night
Especially when things are difficult. It doesn’t have to be an expensive outing, but just some quality time without interruptions from kids, friends, family, etc.
Finding time to connect to each other and spend quality time is a necessity. Intimacy is part of it; sex can mostly make things better. Have fun together and do things that you didn’t get to do in a long time.
5. Express gratitude and appreciation toward each other
Even so, your partner most likely knows you love him, make sure to remind them of it using their love language (don’t know what it is? Quiz here). Making someone feel loved and appreciated can help significantly during the crisis.
6. Find healthy coping skills, and support each other’s coping skills
Having some alone time to do something you love and your partner may not like to do is healthy as well. Hanging out with the boys/girls once in a while is making the relationship stronger most of the time, it helps build trust.
If it is difficult for you to find those coping skills on your own you can always turn to outside help and see a therapist who specializes in couples work. If you have any question me or someone else from my team can help here.