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Coping with Unexpected Crises Coping with Unexpected Crises
    by Norman and Ann Bales

    When you read the first part of the Old Testament book of Job, you get the impression that everything was going right in his life. He was a righteous man who “feared God and shunned evil.” His economic assets were enormous. From all appearances, he was stable and happy. A rapid succession of tragedies disturbed this portrait of tranquility. On the same day he learned that all his children died violently and that he had been reduced to a pauper, but he still had his wife and his health. Later, he would be afflicted with a horrible, disfiguring disease. That was too much for his wife to take. Instead of giving him comfort, she said, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9).

    It’s not likely that your marriage will be traumatized to that degree, but the day will come in your marriage when you will face a crisis you didn’t anticipate. Most of us don’t even like to think about the possibility of having our lives disturbed by such unpleasant circumstances. But stop and think of the various crises that families face — the death of a child, a disabling accident, loss of employment, a house fire, major illness, a natural disaster, a spouse being sent off to war, loss of income.

“Every crisis has the potential to strengthen the marriage...”
    When these things occur, the marriage relationship will change. It can never be the same again. “Every crisis has the potential to strengthen the marriage, weaken it or bring it down altogether.” (Judith Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee, The Good Marriage, p. 117). Married couples who find their marriages strengthened when they face a crisis usually recognize the dangers involved and take positive steps to work through the problems. What can a couple do to strengthen their relationship when tragic circumstances occur? Here are some suggestions.

  • Talk openly about the crisis. Usually at least one partner will want to avoid talking about the problem. Avoidance is an invitation to disaster. Couples need to talk about the extent of the damage, what they can realistically control and make plans for handling those things they are able to manage.

  • Avoid the temptation to place blame. They also need to protect one another from self-blame.

  • Don’t let the fun go out of your life. Your problem is serious and should be handled seriously but a sense of humor takes the hard edge off. According to Proverbs 17:22, “A cheerful heart is a good medicine.”

  • Stay in touch with those who need and love you the most. Perhaps you will have some resentment of your friends. After all, everything seems to be going well in their lives. They wouldn’t understand. It’s understandable that you would be tempted to avoid them. But you need safe people and safe places. Most of all you need to know that you are loved.

  • Anticipate poor responses and act to stave them off in advance. You may be tempted to “medicate” yourself with drugs or alcohol to relieve the pain. Refuse to make a choice that can only make your problem worse.
From Norman and Ann Bales' "All About Families" web site. See http://www.allaboutfamilies.org for more great articles.

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Title: "Coping with Unexpected Crises"
Author: Norman and Ann Bales
Publication Date: September 28, 2000



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