Adversity is an important life experience that reveals our characters. How a married couple deals with the inevitable challenges can strengthen or weaken its relationship. These are the times when you discover your true feelings about yourself, your mate and your marriage. Are you truly committed to each other? Are you on the same team? Or, do you think only of your own survival? Ask yourself, “Am I going to help, hurt or bail?”
Help, hurt or bail
Help. Endeavor to understand the situation and how your mate is feeling. What is the real problem? Keep delving deeper until you get the root of the problem. How can you tell if you’ve reached it? Any criticism or resentment will be replaced by compassion. “What can I do to help?” “How can I make this situation better?”
Helping your mate when he’s down is being the partner you vowed to be when you married. “For better, for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health.” It’s definitely the type of loyalty and commitment you would want and expect from him if you were down. Sometimes a marriage is like an Olympic relay, with your mate picking up the baton to run the next leg of the race when you stumble and vice versa.
Hurt. It is a natural first reaction to lash out in defense or anger because our primal survival instinct kicks in. Use care not to say or do anything that will hurt your mate or make matters worse. Sometimes, we can’t resist the urge to unleash frustration and resentments in a barrage of cutting words, but remember that once spoken, they can’t be retracted from the other person’s mind. Venting helps you feel a little temporary relief but it is not worth the lasting damage it inflicts upon your mate.
Other ways of hurting your marriage is to withhold trust and respect. Trust and respect were exchanged at the altar and it shouldn’t be revoked lightly.
Bail. At the first sign of trouble, people immediately conjure up thoughts about ditching their partners because it is a quick solution. Immediate relief. What these people don’t realize is that life will continue to bring them similar situations that will challenge their character in order to strengthen them. Outside stresses may differ but how we cope with the inevitable conflicts of life is an internal mechanism, and we will bring that coping mechanism, however broken, with us into our future relationships. That is why many second marriages aren’t any smoother sailing than first marriages.
It’s up to you to decide how you will choose to react. There may come a time when bailing on your marriage is the sane thing to do. Just be mindful of how you are reacting to the stresses in your marital life. Be conscious of your words and actions. Are you going to help, hurt or bail?