The last year has been a significant challenge in the lives of many families. The year of 2015 was ushered in with a sharp decline in oil prices and with it the loss of tens of thousands of jobs in our city alone. Our family was not unaffected. In fact, my husband lost his job in one of the first waves of layoffs. Since that time the cuts have been harder and deeper with each new round. Our downtown, once a bustling hub, now barely generates a rush hour. Families all around us are selling their homes, cutting their losses, and moving away in the hopes of employment elsewhere. The devastation is palpable.
In the nine months between jobs, there were a few key principles that held our family of three together. When times get tough in a marriage, these 6 lessons can mean the difference between survival and defeat...
6 Tips for Thriving in a Marriage During Tough Times
1. Don't Panic: When something unexpected happens, it's easy to imagine the worst. Though it's tempting to throw your hands up in defeat and surrender to the difficult circumstances you've been given, it's important to try to stay positive. Although it's cliché -- things do have a way of working themselves out when you...
2. Make a plan: The best advice my mom ever gave me was: "Stress is simply the absence of a plan." I always remember that when I'm faced with challenging situations and I'm feeling out of control. By writing it down or talking through the next steps you'll begin to feel more in control of the situation. Do you need to get a resume together? Get a second opinion? Consider a move? Whatever it is, make a list and start working your way through it systematically.
"How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time...."
3. Seek Advice: It's hard to know what those next steps are when you don't even know what you're dealing with. If someone in your family has lost their job, seek out a career counsellor. If someone has suffered a recent medical diagnosis, seek a second opinion. Do your research. Know what you're up against, and make a plan to tackle it.
4. Keep a Routine: It's easy to throw yourself a pity party and sleep late, stress-eat, and generally let yourself go. No one would even blame you if you did, however none of these things will make you feel better and lift you out of your current funk. The best thing you can do is to set a new routine for yourself. Get up at the same time each day. Eat well. Schedule in time to work on your resume, go to doctor's appointments, meet with other people who will lift your spirits. The greatest gift you can give yourself is to maintain a sense of normalcy.
5. Compliment and Encourage Each Other Daily: This one is key. Both men and women need daily reassurance that even if everything else is crumbling around them, their marriage at least is on stable ground. It's critical that you build each other up daily. Show affection in little ways. Let your spouse know that you care and that you're there for them. Resist the urge to take out your frustrations on your spouse and instead focus your energy on something more productive. Like...
6. Have a little fun: It's important to make an effort to find joy in every day. This is especially critical in the midst of challenging times. Plan a $5 date night each and see who can come up with the best idea! Go for a walk after dinner and enjoy some quality time together. Have some friends over for a board game night. Whatever makes you feel like yourself, make sure to make time for it. It will help to keep your spirit alive.
To everyone out there walking through this right now, I'm thinking about you and would love to hear your story. Do you have some tips for how you're making it through? Have some encouragement for others? Feel free to share in the comments below!
Tiffany Austin is a mom, a wife, writer, and educator living in Canada. Tired of never feeling "good enough" as a new mom, she began a blog to encourage other moms to feel confident and empowered in their own decisions. Her blog, The Good Enuf Mommy, includes everything from helpful parenting advice to product recommendations aimed at making the lives of moms just a little bit easier. Show her some love on Facebook and if you like what you see sign up for her monthly newsletter!