How to Keep Your Marriage Alive After Losing Everything to a Natural Disaster

The best thing you can do after a natural disaster is be strong and love everyone even if you have lost everything.


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    Hang on to each other and love each other. Especially in one of these situations and in times of need. This person may be all you have, so keep him/her close. Respect boundaries though. If your spouse feels stifled and says so, you're hanging on too hard. Holding your spouse close means caring more about your spouse's happiness than your own. Hold your spouse close in ways that your spouse finds comforting - like thinking of how to make your spouse happy while you do an errand to give your spouse some time alone and bring something needed. Like when you were first dating, try in all ways to please your partner and let your partner set the pace.
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    Respect your spouse's grief. Each person grieves in different ways. If your spouse is pulling away rather than leaning on you, first look at how you're behaving in the crisis. If you're comforting your spouse in order to ignore your own pain and pretend not to feel it, that may become overbearing and not give the comfort you intended. Be real with yourself and your spouse. Try to face your own grief at the loss in ways that don't demand effort from your spouse.
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    Encourage your spouse to talk about their feelings and listen without judging or condemning. This is the number one kindest thing you can give anyone who is grieving anything - let them cry, rant, plead, pray, bargain with God and work through all of the stages of grief while you're listening and being supportive. Educate yourself on the stages of grief - they are the same across cultures and all human beings go through them at their own individual pace. Some take years. Others might go through all five stages in a 24 hour period. The five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
    • Do not get angry at your spouse for not sharing your feelings at the time you do. Some people are resilient and can take disaster in stride. Others grieve in different ways and at a different pace. Take care of your feelings in a way that does not involve lashing out at your spouse.
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    Love each other and be there for each other. Support your spouse in any family deaths/losses he/she may have experienced. This means being especially considerate of your spouse while your life is that precarious. Now is when all small kindnesses will carry deep meaning and convey your loyalty, reassure your spouse that he/she has not lost everything in this world, still has a loving partner.
    • Anything from small errands like bringing water to speaking softly and not arguing about anything makes an enormous difference. So does thinking of your spouse first when sharing limited resources like food and water. If you're both doing this, you're building a deep trust that may give both of you a happier marriage after the disaster than you had before it.
    • Be gentle. Most of all, be gentle with your spouse and accept his or her moods as natural for the state of grief. If you get shouted at, blamed for choosing the wrong possessions to pack or leaving behind a pet, worst of all blamed for the death of other family members, remember this. People in the anger stage of grief may take it out on anyone in reach. Anger over not saving an irreplaceable keepsake can be the way your spouse is channeling anger at having lost the whole house and everyone who's died.
    • When you get angry at your spouse for this unfairness, remember it's not about you. It's about the disaster that's bigger than both of you. Walk away and shout at God, rant to the sky, journal about it, face the real problem and find a way to express your anger at nature about the disaster. It's bigger than you are, but you're grieving too. If you don't turn that anger against your spouse you will have a much better chance of still having a marriage afterward.
    • If you're both doing this, you can shout at God together and become closer. The anger stage of grief is the most dangerous part of mutual loss for a couple, the other risky part is the despair stage when partners may give up on each other rather than comforting each other.
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    Talk it out. Talk about the disaster, the losses, anything. Just let it out and put your trust in your partner. Make new plans together. Find out if your spouse was unhappy about something in the past. It's much easier to make changes in your life when it's already been that disrupted.
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    Don't look back on the past, no matter how much it hurts you. That will just bring back hurtful memories. Plan for the future as a fresh start. This is a time in life when you may be more free to relocate or change other life choices than you would ever have been otherwise. If your workplace was destroyed but you hated your job, it could be a blessing in disguise once you find a job that's more satisfying.
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    Laugh about it. What seemed so important before the disaster is honestly ludicrous now. Were you worried that you couldn't get a stain out of the counter? Or worried that you'd never make time to do those minor repairs? The house is gone. Guess what chores are gone with it. That's worth a laugh. Black humor is still real humor and it's one of the healthiest ways to cope with loss that there is. If you can get into a frame of mind where you're laughing, laughter is a glorious way to release the tension. Always poke fun at yourself with this, not your spouse - teasing that might have been fine before the disaster could cut like a knife when a person's at their most vulnerable. The idea is to make you and your spouse feel better, not worse.
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    Work on rebuilding your life and marriage at the same time. Imagine your new home as your marriage and as it builds itself up you build yourself up. This can begin right in the shelter as you stand in line to get a blanket for your spouse or salvage something that's a small comfort. The more you do this with a goal of making your spouse happy, the greater the chance your spouse will reciprocate and you will be rebuilding your marriage from the ground up - in a sound, strong way that can survive any troubles.
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    Renew your vows. This is important. In grief a person may feel lost and alone, but when you show that you're going to be there for your spouse throughout the trouble and receive that promise, you have not lost everything. You've kept and strengthened the most important thing. Material possessions are replaceable, even lost keepsakes can be remembered for what they were. But the people who lived are infinitely more precious and you may have a deeper, richer marriage afterward.


  • Do not take responsibility for other people's feelings. Even if your spouse says things like "You made me lose control," that's just wrong. Your spouse could have chosen to react differently. Take responsibility for your own feelings and don't accuse your spouse of anything in this time.
  • Take care of your children the best that you can. If you're separated from them, they are probably getting some priority from the authorities and you'll be reunited soon.
  • Be aware that you're lucky if you still have a workplace or have saved up money. Show your gratitude to your spouse, because it's almost impossible to save money when a spouse isn't also using self control.
  • Think of others and help others. It's one of the most effective ways to empower yourself when you feel helpless. If your spouse refuses your aid, help someone who's asking for help.


  • Do not bully others to gain resources for yourself or your family at the expense of others.
  • Do not argue about who got the bigger share or better blanket, other petty things. Surviving a disaster is a time for cooperation, not competition. People will remember anyone who was cruel and hold a grudge, or remember kindness and reciprocate later.
  • Do not become so self sacrificing that you risk your own survival in terms of food, water, supplies. If you don't take care of yourself you won't have the strength to help others. Be realistic about your abilities and needs, don't ignore or exaggerate them.

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Categories: Creating Life Balance