Crisis management is part of any major business or industry. I, for one, work as a manager at one of the most prestigious oil and gas companies in the world. Having said that, it is important for any core process of a business to have a planned crisis management.
What Is Crisis Management?
Managementhelp.org defines a crisis as any situation that is threatening or could threaten to harm or damage the business. When your company is in a crisis, you need to move immediately and instantly to avert the crisis as soon as possible.
But the problem with a crisis is that it is long-lasting. Even if you stopped the preliminary cause of a crisis, its effects can be worse and take longer to contain. You still have to follow steps and procedures to guard the reason for the crisis, prevent it from spreading, and take immediate measures to alleviate the adverse consequences brought about by the crisis.
Crisis Management as Applied to Marriage
The first steps in crisis management can also be applied to marriage. A crisis can occur even in marriage. As long as an unexpected event causes a huge negative impact to the relationship between the husband and the wife, crisis management can be used to contain the situation and prevent the event from turning into a worse case.
Pre-planning Your Crisis Management Process
A marriage in crisis can be caused by a number of factors. The key to any crisis management is anticipating the crisis from all points and angles of entry. You have to know your possible crisis sources so that you can be prepared for it.
An example of a marriage crisis is an extramarital affair. This is the prevailing cause of a damaged relationship. It brings us pain and stress. It affects all parts of your life—your work, your hobbies, your friends, and even your kids. A marriage in crisis is detrimental to the progress and success of the relationship.
As a married couple, you are a unit. And as a group, you should discuss and make a list of all possible crises that your marriage can encounter. It may be difficult at first, but once you get the ball rolling, you can complete the list in no time.
Here are some major causes of the crisis in a marriage:
- Financial problems and woes
- Infertility and inability to have children
- Not wanting to have children
- Lack of sex
- Lack of quality time
- Not enough physical intimacy
- Emotional abuse
- Physical abuse
By knowing the possible causes of a crisis that your marriage can have, you will be better prepared and ready to follow and do the next steps.
Your First-Aid Steps to Save a Marriage in Crisis
Step 1. Assess the situation.
No matter how prepared you are in your crisis management, actual circumstances may tell you otherwise. An unexpected chain of events may cause your marriage to be in turmoil and lead to a crisis.
But it still pays to be as organized and systematic as possible. It is not that you are deliberately wanting your marriage to be in a crisis. But having a system for these crises can help you have a more rational mind and more control over the situation.
Married couples, especially those who have been married for a number of years, immediately feel when something is not right. An unusual behavior is being done by the spouse. A routine that has been occurring regularly has suddenly changed. The way he shows his love for you is now different from the way he did it years before.
Watch out for tell-tale signs and red flags that your marriage may be in crisis. Knowing and accepting this fact will give you more time to follow the next steps to prevent further deterioration of the relationship in your marriage.
Step 2. Know the cause of the crisis.
I once encountered a leak in our pipeline. The pressure inside the pipeline went down. The product was not being received in the tank. Product volume was being counted, but none of it was being accounted for at the receiving area. In short, my company had a crisis.
In that scenario, the crisis is the leak of the pipeline. But what is the cause of the leak? We investigated and evaluated the whole pipeline to know the root cause or source of the leak. It took us time to identify the pinhole where the leak was coming from.
During a crisis in marriage, you have to identify what is causing the crisis. For example, if your husband or wife suddenly becomes cold to you, this is your marriage crisis. But the reason that is causing this symptom to develop is a wholly different matter.
It takes time and effort to find the root cause of a crisis. Sometimes, it works to take time off to really delve into the problem, reflect on past events, and identify the thing or things that are causing the crisis to happen.
Let’s go back to our example. Extramarital affairs are a crisis that can really turn your marriage upside down. Although the steps lead to the rehabilitation and restoration of the one who cheated on the relationship, both of you will still need to figure out the main cause of the crisis.
Why did he cheat? What caused the infidelity? Is it because of a lack of sex? Am I not giving him quality time? Does he feel that he is not taken care of? Is this his way of getting back at me for not giving him what he wants? Does he rely on this act as a form of emotional abuse to me?
Ask the right questions and you will eventually find the root cause of a crisis. Make sure to take note of this so that you can move on to the next step of the process.
Step 3. Communicate it to the whole team.
In crisis management, you have to inform everyone that a crisis is actually happening. You will activate the crisis management protocol and give designated roles to the members of the team.
When applied to marriage, the only two members that are needed to be informed when a crisis is happening are the husband and the wife. If a family member or friend can help, then, by all means, tell him, too. But as much as possible, you need to limit the number of people who know this crucial information. This is to protect each other’s reputations and guard each other against criticism and further weakening of the relationship.
Not all crises are very obvious. Some are already happening and you are both not even aware of it. An example of a crisis that cloaks itself as a normal marriage problem is verbal abuse.
In a heated discussion, couples may relentlessly say hurtful words and add painful suggestive meanings to their statements. Because of anger, we can sometimes let ourselves loose, focus less on what we need to say, and not think about the words that come out of our lips.
This is normal in a marriage, though married couples are advised not to resort to this during arguments. But the point is that this happens. Now, you have to draw a line between the inability to hold your words and deliberately condemning and condescending to your spouse.
Verbal abuse is the spouse’s way of belittling the husband or wife. It may not seem like much at first, but verbal abuse is a very serious matter. In an article in Washington Post, a domestic abuse expert said she has spoken to 45,000 people who are severely verbally abused in their marriage. If not averted, this can lead to physical abuse and violence.
Step 4. Find an immediate solution.
You have to compose yourself, take a breather, and think of a solution to the crisis and the cause of the crisis. When we found the location of the leak, we patched it up neatly and securely. To manage the leak, we used state-of-the-art technology to remove the oil from the soil and restore it to its original form.
In your marriage, you have to find a solution fast. Take note that I am using the word fast to refer to seeking the solution. But the actual steps of the solution can be tedious. Think of all possible answers to your problems and hop into the best one that you can find. Start the healing process as soon as possible.
To save a marriage in crisis, you have to act fast. Self-loathing and curling into a ball and going to the corner can cause you to lose precious time. A crisis will only worsen if it is not stopped as early as you can.
Contain the effects of the crisis and start the rehabilitation process quickly. By keeping a rational mind and a forward-focused heart, you can avert this crisis and turn it into a stepping stone to a more mature relationship.