Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: I am the letter writer from the Oct. 22, 2015 column. I wanted to say thank you for responding and give you an update.
His mom died last fall. I did what you advised, I was there for him and supportive of him regardless of how we defined what “us” was.
Thinking back now, I was drained and just wanted a break. After his mom died, a huge burden was lifted off him, and in turn, lifted off me — and he started getting support from friends, family and therapists, so I’m not his only support now.
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It also didn’t help that everything that we did revolved around the care of his mother. We started doing couple things again. We’ve been able to reconnect now that the burden has been lifted, and I’m realizing why I had fallen in love with him in the first place. We’re learning how to support each other in a crisis.
We’ve learned that it is very important to take the time to forget about whatever the crisis is and just be a couple. I think that if we had made that a priority, he and I would not have felt as stressed as we did.
Any other suggestions for a crisis like the one we’ve just gone through? Hopefully we won’t have another one of the same size, or at least we’ll be a little bit more prepared for the next one.
Hi again, and thanks so much for the update. I’m sorry to hear about his mom, but also glad you’ve come to a realistically happy non-ending with your relationship, my favorite kind.
Pragmatism is seriously romantic, once you acquire the taste for it.
I think a lot of what we do when not in crisis can be very helpful during stressful times. When things are going well, that’s a great time to figure out what works for you in taking care of yourself. Do you function better with a plan, or with a lot of room for spontaneity? Do you feel better when you exercise hard every day, with fitness as a goal, or are you happier just being active in your leisure time, maybe dancing or biking? What calms you when you’re wound up — a walk, a hot bath, yoga, a pet, a book, an escapist movie, a laugh with buddies, an abrupt change of scenery? Do you need a certain amount of alone time, do you have projects/hobbies/causes that restore you? Are there people who just get on your last nerve, and if so, have you figured out why — and figured out how to keep them from dragging you down?
I could keep going, but basically all are smaller contributors to your larger state of mind. So, use your happier times to learn how to be your own mechanic — both individually and in your relationship. That’ll pay off when things get tough and you need to keep yourself running.
Remember, too, something you just witnessed: The bad (and good) phases end, always, giving way to something else.
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