Tips to keep emotionally in shape during conjugal crises
April 9, 2013 2:35 PM   Subscribe

What are the things that you did during a conjugal crises that helped you?

A dear friend is going through a very difficult conjugal crisis. The couple is separated and right now it's not clear if they'll ever get back together. My friend fell on a depression and feels helpless.

Assuming that all that's possible in terms of communication in the couple and their kids is being done, what are some things that you did by yourself or with your kids (not with the spouse) that helped you going through such hard times? It'd be good to have some simple things that could become routine in a time of hopelessness and, according to my friend, the worst time of their life.

I suggested therapy and exercise and it is helping a bit. I also suggested writing, but they didn't have the time/energy to start.
posted by TheGoodBlood to Human Relations (4 answers total)
In the dual interests of 'helping others to help himself' and the (most often) intrinsic parental desire to help or protect children, perhaps your friend could try talking to the kids to find something that they've never done before but would like to try. This could start off simple (hiking, simple art projects) and as energy/motivation increases or is available doing bigger things (a weekend trip, etc.). Being in new situations and/or environments and focusing on trying to find happy/fun/interesting things to do spending time with the kids might help refocus things a bit.

And here's hoping for the best and good luck to all of them.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 3:48 PM on April 9, 2013

Community service stuff...lots of soup kitchens take short-term or even walk-in volunteers, and kids are usually welcome within reason. If something like the United Way volunteer database is too daunting right now, s/he could just call up a local house of worship and ask for family-friendly service activities. This holds even if the person is totally don't have to be a believer to put together a tuna casserole.

Nursing homes can also use friendly visitors on a more or less ad hoc and ask.

(Naturally, if s/he can stand to be in a vaguely more religious context, there are "fellowship" activities for families that don't involve much religion at all. Pick the most open-minded institution around and then go to their pancake breakfast or what have you.)

Find a somewhat related support group and go to that. Not depressed in general? Well, you are now, so try a depression group (NAMI is for all mental illnesses...the link is just a starting point). Your parents' alcoholism not bothering you at this very moment, relative to everything else? Well, Al-Anon may still have something to offer. Warning: support groups can be kind of exhausting, too, depending.

Good luck. I can't imagine what it's like with kids, but I know it must be very hard.
posted by skbw at 4:43 PM on April 9, 2013

Something that has recently become a comforting, welcome part of my routine, partly in association with a non-marital crisis, is "snack time," believe it or not. Every night at 8:30 my teenage daughter and I have snack time, where we share a nice small snack and something tasty to drink, and watch one of her TV shows. As corny as it sounds, even my daughter looks forward to it. I think it helps a little bit with my tendency toward emotional eating during my own periods of depression and feeling helpless by focusing my urges for pleasure/comfort food into one planned, social daily event. It's a nice time to connect with my daughter in a low-stress way.
posted by drlith at 6:35 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I feel like anything could fit this bill -- a regular event where they visit a new park and take a picnic (or go for brunch in colder weather) every Saturday morning. Or Friday Night Pizza (still a source of nostalgia for my Spouse) or weekend pancakes, something that breaks the usual routine in a way that feels deliberately festive. What fits depends on the interests and habits of the people involved (and the age of the kids) -- a regular zoo trip and Lunch With Mom could be fun for a younger kid, or monthly baseball tickets for older kids. Or movie night with air-popped popcorn, or game night with chore swaps. Lots of possibilities that make Time We Spend Together about the fun and togetherness, not about who's not there.
posted by acm at 7:01 AM on April 10, 2013

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