Healthy families, and couples, know that everyone, and every family, has problems. We want to live in a society that tries to force us to believe that only bad people have problems. The reality is that we all have issues that we have to deal with and solve if we are to be functional and healthy. When one member of the family has a problem, it is critical to know that it is something that affects the entire family. If you really want to solve things it is going to take a joint effort by everyone concerned to resolve things. Here are a few ideas to think about.
Withdrawal is a Critical Warning Sign
When one, or the other, member of the relationship withdrawn from the other, the marriage/family, this is a sign that the relationship is in trouble. The signs of withdrawal relate to how much time is devoted to other activities outside of the family; things that one member does on their own that takes valuable interaction time away from the family. Withdrawal is the first sign that the couple is heading for a divorce, separation, or more problems. Withdrawal is usually responded to in the family by other members becoming more upset, depressed, anxious and feeling lost and confused. When you hear others complaining about the amount of time you spend away from them doing things, then this is a sign that you are not doing your part for whatever reason.
Talking Without Blame
If you find yourself becoming upset with your mate, blaming them for “their problems,” then you both have to step back and decide that each of you have to do things differently. Most couples become upset and angry at times, but they do it only with the focus on trying to talk out and resolve issues.
What has to happen is that you start to make sure that you have time to sit down and talk on a daily basis about the relationship, without blame. Take time to talk of the day, what happened, and other issues in the house that both of you need to be focusing on. Avoid saying that “it is all your fault.” Make working together a top priority for both of you regardless of what you mates does, or does not, do!
If you mate is depressed, not functioning well, stop and say “how can we work on this together to make sure we get through this in a positive manner.” Don’t get angry at them for having a depressive disorder. It is not easy to get over it by “willing it away.” This is a serious problem which takes a united approach to handle over time.
Responding in a Crisis
When we are in a crisis, we tend to “look sicker than we really are.” A crisis affects everyone in the family and is something that everyone has to work on. You cannot leave it up to the one who is experiencing the crisis. Ask yourself what you have to actively do to help to stabilize the situation. Don’t get defensive and worry what others may think about you. Commit that you will work on this together no matter what happens.
Working on Solutions Together
Make the decision that you are going to work on this together. Marriage is a “joint business venture” that both of you are in together and should focus on making it work. If things are not going well go to therapy and counseling, and other appointments, together to make sure that you as a couple, and family, are going to insure positive solutions. Do this no matter what happens. Let go of your pride. It is not always easy and you will not want to return. However, keep going, return for appointments, and don’t give up on it if you really want to make it work.
Know that it is going to take time and work if it is to happen. Realize that other tasks, duties, and desires may have to be set aside for a while in order to resolve things in the now. Be honest with yourself about your resistance, blocking of progress, and denial of your part in the process. Each person has to look at themselves in a non-defensive manner if solutions are to be found.
Work the solutions each day as a couple. It cannot be left up to one or the other to do all the work. Know that the one in the crisis may not have the ability to handle things like they did in the past and that is just fine for now. They may need you to be more involved and active for a while if real solutions are to be found!
The more upset, and impatient you get, with the one who is “suffering,” the more difficult you make it for them to recover and improve. Develop joint plan on how you both are going to help to work on things. The “suffering one” need to seek the treatment and work on alternatives. The “supporting one” need to go with them as much as possible. Further, withdrawal by the supporting one will only make things worse.
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