Guest Blogger: Brittany Siegel, MA MFT
Natural disasters have a profound effect on marriage. A marriage can be tightened or eroded by a disaster. When the unexpected happens, couples can undergo severe strain if they are unable to comfort each other. Of course people make adjustments, but for some their life will never be the same. They will never again have what they had.
Grieving through items lost, transitioning to a new house or neighborhood and coping through possible guilt are all overwhelming feelings for anyone to handle. Couples that have suffered through a disaster tend to experience trauma and become in a state of crisis, which has a ripple effect on families in more ways then just property loss and rebuilding. Individuals may feel many emotions, such as: anger, sadness, anxiety, stress, exhaustion and confusion. Their marriage may feel isolated, alone or withdrawn from the outside world or possibly between each other. Even those who successfully put the disaster in the past do not live in quite the same way; this event will forever be a part of their background.
Often times, a marriage can be strengthened by extraordinary events. Some couples and their families rediscover themselves and their real values. Becoming a unit together and forming a bond of survival can be a positive outlet. Providing choices to your partner, creating a plan, positive communication and overall consistent support can help drive couples to restore empty feelings. It is normal for couples to have difficulties after a disaster. Sometimes it might not be clear how problems are connected with the disaster, especially if they emerge long after the event. Most marriages can become stronger following a crisis, but first you need to understand and deal with any issues that arise. I encourage couples to keep communicating – talk about what is happening, how you each feel, and what you need from each other to avoid feeling alone, isolated and misunderstood. I also think that every crisis that you survive makes you stronger, and the bond between you can grow with every challenge you meet.
~Brittany Siegel, MA MFT
Has your marriage been affected by a disaster?