How to Keep Hope Alive During a Marriage Crisis
During a marital crisis, you may feel like your whole world is falling apart and all your dreams are shattered. Hearing the words “I don’t love you anymore,” “I want a divorce,” or “I don’t know if I want to stay married” can leave you stunned with shock.
Many feelings arise after the initial groggy reaction: anger, fear, anxiety, confusion, resentment, bitterness, despair, and depression. Everything seems confusing and a bit unreal, as if this is really happening to someone else, not you. But, unbelievably, it is happening to you.
This is when you have to use every ounce of courage and strength you possess and a lot that you didn’t know you had until now. Immediately, you should create a space for private time so that you can take care of yourself, regroup, and create an action plan.
You may need to take a day off from work, spend some time talking with a close friend, buy a notebook and start writing down your feelings and thoughts, or take a long walk in the park. Another option is to call and schedule a counseling appointment for you as soon as possible.
Then take some time to think about how you will handle the situation. Your goal is to buy time so your spouse doesn’t run away prematurely. You want to slow things down so your spouse has time to reconsider and, if possible, agree to go to counseling with you.
During this time of crisis, you will have to be the “keeper of the flame of marriage.” It is up to you to keep hope and love alive so that the fire does not go out. You may complain that it is not fair and that it should not be this way.
But the bottom line is that if you want to save your marriage and your partner wants to date, it will be up to you to take positive action. During the crisis, you will need to be willing to do much more than your share to keep your marriage alive.
And that means that despite your fear and anxiety, it’s up to you to keep the hope alive, the hope that your marriage will succeed, the hope that your partner will change their mind, the hope that your marriage can survive this. and be even better than ever.
Here are some tips on how to keep hope alive and cope during this time:
1. Don’t give up on your marriage no matter what your spouse said. People often change their minds. No situation is hopeless if at least one of the spouses is willing to do whatever it takes to preserve the marriage. There is always hope that your marriage can be transformed with loving energy. Many spouses reconsider their initial urge to leave and decide that they have invested too much time and energy to get rid of their marriage without at least attempting marriage counseling.
2. Don’t take everything your spouse says personally. People often say extreme things when they are upset or trying to justify what they are doing. A partner who feels guilty for telling you they want a divorce may get very angry instead. A spouse who has never expressed his true feelings about things may finally explode with a long list of his faults over the years.
3. Really anchor in your mind that how you react to the situation will have a big impact on how things go from here. If you keep harassing a spouse who wants some emotional space, you are giving them the perfect excuse to leave. You cannot control what your spouse chooses to do or not do, but you can control how you choose to handle the situation.
4. Allow yourself to be “confused.” If your spouse asks what you are going to do next, just say that you are confused and need time to think, that you do not want to make hasty decisions. Being “confused” can calm a spouse who is waiting to start a fight. It also gives you some time.
5. Honor your spouse’s request for emotional space, if that’s a problem. Back off and take time to regroup, stabilize, and take the focus off your partner for the moment. You have a lot to lose if you let your anxiety take over and demand immediate answers to tough questions.
6. Make a list of all the things you can do to ground yourself and be more emotionally and physically balanced. Include things like working out at the gym, getting a massage, walking or hiking, allowing close friends to support you, listening to inspirational tapes on the way to work, reading books about people who have survived tough times, being empowered by your spiritual roots and connections, attend services at your church, temple, or mosque, or start individual counseling sessions. Then make plans to implement the ones you think will help you the most.
7. Decide that whatever happens in your marriage, it is important to you to know that you did your best and that you tried everything you knew how to do. So instead of constantly trying to figure out what the odds are that your marriage will survive, put your energy into doing what you can in a useful way every day. Be proactive and take positive action.
8. Begin to expand your life to include new interests and activities. Don’t wait until everything is settled about your marriage before you start enjoying your life as much as you can. Your marital situation may not be resolved, but that doesn’t mean you need to worry and obsess over it all the time. Stretch to expand your world. When you have fun participating in activities that interest you, it becomes more interesting to others, including your spouse.
9. Make a conscious choice to stay positive and expect that something good and useful will come out of this experience in the long run. Your expectation will affect what happens. If you are in doubt, the energy of doubt will permeate your efforts. Tell yourself that there is always a creative solution to any problem. Trust your ability to be creative, flexible, and resilient.