I would never suggest that anyone spends his time obsessing about what things could go wrong in life. It is a useless waste of energy and can create a lack of action bordering on paralysis. However, creating contingency plans or ways to think and act should something take an unexpected turn can keep you functioning smoothly under difficult circumstances.
This idea is really another way of “looking ahead” or planning for the future. It can apply to relationships as easily as it applies to business.
Spouses having problems with their relationship will often become frustrated, angry or even depressed. If there is a breakdown in communication leaving partners unable to express themselves without feeling threatened or misunderstood, there is trauma to the relationship and the couple is in crisis.
Planning ahead for this type of event may seem a little morbid and negative to some couples who are getting along just fine. However it can be a useful exercise to consider what you should do if there was such a breakdown. Here are some tips to help you manage through a crisis.
Short-circuit the crisis: This may seem like a no brainer but many partners have admitted after the fact that they did see a breakdown coming but did not take action soon enough. It could be pride, fear or denial that might get in the way of good judgment. Don’t let that happen. Be proactive and pay attention to warning signs.
Stabilize the situation: If you can’t short-circuit it than try maintaining a balanced approach. Stabilizing the conflict before it becomes a crisis prevents it from escalating into a very regrettable situation. You would benefit from recognizing possible problems in advance and agree with each other about the steps you might take to de-escalate.
Get an aerial view ASAP: You want to be able to evaluate how things really are by stepping back as soon as possible. Ask yourself the following questions: Am I making too much of this? How strongly do I need to react to make my point? Will my reaction benefit both of us (or all of us)? What is my true objective?
Look for the positive spin: Most successful people (couples included) look for the positive aspects of any situation. Cliché’s like “every cloud has a silver lining”, “this too shall pass” and “where there’s life there’s hope” all convey the idea that the longer, more positive view is always more constructive. There may be a tendency to cycle downward into gloom and negativity…fight it!
Have a “rabbi”: Have someone who you trust and respect to confer with when things become problematic. If you find yourself confused and unable to think clearly about important matters you need to be able to talk to someone who can remain objective. If you have nobody who fits that description find a therapist or life coach quickly.
Take action…only when ready: If you are not sure about what to do in a crisis, do nothing until you are ready. Don’t be hasty. You will likely need to take some action but be as clear as possible about what your objective is and if the action you are about to take will accomplish it.
Keep an open mind: Be flexible, not stubborn. There is no glory in being too stubborn for your own good (or for anybody else’s good). The only way to get the benefit of an aerial view is to be open minded about what you are actually seeing. Don’t let your ego get in the way of avoiding or de-escalating a crisis.