This is it. Everyone warned you this was coming… “Life is tough,” they said. Well they weren’t kidding. Now you get it. The hard times have hit. Maybe you saw it coming for a while…. or maybe it has quite literally knocked the breath out of you. Either way, you and your partner are struggling through it.
The thing about tough times is this: you never know how you will respond until you are actually in the situation. You go into your own version of survival mode. So does your partner. Well, what happens when YOUR version of survival mode looks different from your partner’s?
It can go one of two ways..
You can either be discouraged and frustrated by the ways that your partner handles stress OR you can lean into their strengths.
How does this look?
Let’s set up a scenario:
Money is tight. You have a new baby at home. Times are tough and the bills are piling up. While under stress, one partner’s response happens to be different than the other partner’s. The first person’s natural stress response is to lean into optimism and hopefulness about the future. The other person’s response is to look for all the ways things could go wrong and consistently come up with ways to make sure they do not. Is either person wrong for how they approach the problem? No. Each person is trying to make sense of an overwhelmingly hard thing.
It’s easy to see how this couple may experience some tension!
They could become more and more frustrated with each other’s responses. Both feeling unheard and unseen by the other – minimized and ignored. This could lead both to feeling resentful and isolated.
However! You have a choice: You could choose to be deterred by the way your partner handles stress or lean into the adaptability and resilience strengths of your partner.
The couple is able to take a step back and see that while one person is able to quickly shift gears and think positively, it allows the other person the time needed to problem solve on a deeper level.
By leaning into each other’s approaches and seeing them as strengths, it allows the couple to feel gratitude for each other. They are drawn together, rather than driven apart.
Spoiler Alert: You can do this too!
During tough times, you can lean into your and your partner’s strengths and let go of each other’s flaws. You can realize that part of what drew you to the other person is the way that they help you think a little bit differently.
You need each other. You are better together. The tough times are survivable. You weren’t meant to go through this alone. Lean into each other and love each other for your strengths and differences. You and your partner each bring something beautifully unique to the table that bolsters your resilience.
If you would like to learn ways to support each other in adversity, we can help!
See our Couples Specialist: Gracie Epping.