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If you, your partner or child, a parent or other immediate family member, becomes diagnosed with a long-term illness, gets severely injured, or faces some other medical crisis, it will obviously affect your relationship. We know this, and yet we don’t like to spend much time planning for that possibility. The thing is: Life is long. If you’re with your partner for life, chances are you’ll face some kind of crisis at some point — which can be tough to deal with together. It’s impossible to predict the unexpected catastrophes that await us in the future, but it is possible — and essential –– to emotionally prepare together. Lay a foundation with these three steps, and when that crisis comes, your relationship will be able to weather the storm. 

1) Know Thyself. Your emotional preparation will be strongest when you really know yourself and your partner; when you know how to shift in your core values to your highest and greatest contribution, especially in these times of stress. Shift into the value that’s going to bless your spouse, and shift out of the stress-induced negative conflict strategy.

2) Practice physical self-care. Build habits of eating healthfully, managing substances wisely, exercising, and giving yourself rest. The more you practice this when things are calm, the easier it will come to you in times of stress or crisis. Build those healthy habits now.

3) Practice soul care. Just like physical health, it’s essential to build habits of caring for your soul. Soul care means doing things that bring your soul back into alignment with your best self. Things like meditation, reading inspirational writings, and journaling all encourage mindfulness which helps with this. It’s about bringing yourself intentionally back to your whole, best self. Reflect, pursue spiritual growth, and connect with your community.

4) Communicate with your spouse. Strong communication is essential to weather times of crisis — but if you don’t develop those tools now, it won’t just magically come to you in an emergency. Make sure you communicate healthfully and lovingly with your partner on a regular basis. Consider finding a counselor, and not only will they be able to help you develop strong communication habits, they’ll serve as an extra support when that crisis arrives.