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How to ride the marriage rollercoaster

POSTED: July 7, 2014 2:00 p.m.
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Scream from the peaks, hold hands through the dips, laugh through the loop-de-loops, and enjoy every twist and turn for the ride is better because you share it together.

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Like a roller coaster, a marriage is full of ups and downs. Sometimes, the marriage can be terrifying. Sometimes there are major corkscrews that make one feel ready to black out. And sometimes, marriage is a complete thrill.
The thrill, excitement, and bliss of marriage is easy and fun. It’s the hard times —the extreme lows, dropping off steep ledges, and painful corkscrews — that are the kickers. Those are the times one might want to jump off the coaster.
The marriage roller coaster isn’t easy, but it can be done. Remembering two things can help ease the terror of the coaster: enjoy the good times, and ride out the bad times.

Enjoy the good times
Take every good moment for what it is worth. Cherish the joys. Each joyful moment has the power to help push through the hard times marriage brings. Don’t take any good moment for granted. When the good times come, let them come, let them envelop you, and let them carry you onward.

Ride out the bad times
We all know the hard times are. . . hard. Some of these instances are completely excruciating. Sometimes we want to give up rather than ride it out. Difficult times in a marriage can be ridden out gracefully when we have empathy, vulnerability, patience, and love with our spouse.

Empathy
In marriage, many hardships can come from actions of the spouse. For the marriage to work, and to make it through this low part of the coaster, empathy is crucial. Recognize the spouse is suffering, too. When the spouse expresses his thoughts or feelings, validate them and show him you understand. Dig deep within yourself to find your experience with pain. Your experience with pain shows an understanding and enables empathy on your part. Realize that pain and sit with them. Empathy is invaluable in marriage.
Showing empathy will allow for a deeper connection and bonding experience in the marriage. At times, when spouses may feel like enemies, showing empathy can bring forth an attitude shift that could be surprisingly miraculous and healing.

Vulnerability
When trials arise in marriage, we must be able to talk about them with our spouse. It’s important to be open and transparent. As spouses are vulnerable and transparent, they can gain understanding of the other person’s perspective as well as learn things that might never have been said.
Vulnerability could be as simple as “When ________ happened today, it hurt me. I felt like ________.” Sometimes spouses don’t realize they have done something hurtful, and they won’t know unless it is voiced. Vulnerability isn’t always regarding spousal actions, though. Vulnerability can help one voice emotions/traumas/concerns regarding general life trials, and this ability to talk openly about life can increase marital connection during times that would be more prone to ripping spouses apart.

Patience
No one is perfect. No matter how much a person may seem like “the one”, problems will arise in the marriage. Patience is key. Develop a softer heart that is less annoyed by simple things such as the way he chews his food or forgets to unload the dishwasher. Recognize that “thing” the spouse did may not have actually been purposeful to making you mad. Recognize the spouse may have had a really long day. Authenticity and vulnerability lead to understanding. When we understand things, we are able to be a little more patient with certain situations.

Love
Love isn’t a cure-all, but it certainly helps. After the butterfly feeling fades — and it will — remember the reasons you chose this person. When love seems fleeting or failing, it can be rekindled through small acts of kindness. Those small acts of kindness can help ease burdens and increase the ability to empathize and be vulnerable and patient. The power of love can help the marriage ride out the bad times when it is used appropriately.
When empathy, vulnerability, patience, and love are combined, the burdens of a marriage’s hard times can be eased. The good times are great, but it’s the trials and burdens that may cause a spouse in a marriage to want to jump ship. These elements to help ride out the bad times take practice. With practice, the pains of the hard times can be eased, and the marriage roller coaster can seem a little less steep, foreboding and dizzying.

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