Hurricane Irma and the Four Lessons I Learned About Marriage
There are many lessons to learn from hurricanes. In recent years I have thought a lot about hurricanes and their massive destruction and have equated them to marriage regarding what we should and should not do. Last year we had Hurricane Matthew hit Florida. I had time to ponder these ideas then. This week we had Hurricane Irma. I have had lots of time to revisit the same thoughts. In case you don’t know, the name Irma comes from Latin, and it means exalted. Exalted she was at 80 miles wide and set the record for the biggest storm in size and intensity in US history. Imra, the male version of the name Irma means stubborn.
There is no doubt that hurricanes are scary. Hurricane Irma this past week caused 6.3 million people to be ordered to evacuate from Florida. Many left their homes and headed west or north to find safety. I headed to a shelter with my son and younger brother while my parents left with my younger sister who has special needs to Orlando.
As a Life Coach, I am very concerned about women and the roles they play and allow themselves to play in toxic and abusive marriages. My goal is to help them recover their personhood, prevent further destruction, and hopefully restore what has been lost. After having some time to reflect on Hurricane Irma before and after it hit, here is my attempt to shed some wisdom on marriage from the four lessons that I have learned from hurricanes.
To Protect One’s Family Against Danger Is A Natural Instinct
A base reaction when a storm is coming is to protect your family. Not just your nuclear family, but your extended family as well. This might mean that you prepare everything at home before leaving the area, or prepare at home and stay in the area in a safe shelter. You take care of every detail that needs to be taken care of. To not care about your life or the lives of your family would be disconcerting and unnatural. There is no doubt that some do it, but it is unnatural. Even wild animals have the instinct to flee when danger is coming.
The same way you put storm shutters up to protect your home, and you stand in long lines to purchase food and water, you should take great care to get the help you need for your marriage. Please do not feel ashamed to reach out for help. Many people struggle in their marriages. Not getting the help you need is not wise and the collateral damage (damage, death, or injuries inflicted on unintended targets) from that decision could be very costly. Reach out to your pastor, family, friends, and a KNOWLEDGEABLE Therapist or Life Coach.
To Provide For The Needs Of One’s Family Is A Mandate From God
God states in the Bible in 1 Timothy 5:8 that if a man does not provide for all of the members of his family, that he is worse than an unbeliever and has denied the faith. Men have the responsibility of providing for all of the human needs of his family which include physical, spiritual, mental, psychological, and social needs.
As a teacher, one of my responsibilities before Hurricane Irma hit was to alleviate the fears that my students had. They felt like they and their family were going to die. I reassured and empowered them as best as I could to face this experience with as much confidence as possible. I alleviated their fears by providing them with facts from present and past hurricane history and a lot of encouragement.
During Hurricane Irma, we witnessed meteorologist up at countless hours of the night warning us of the incoming danger. They provided the education we needed to take care of our physical needs. We saw churches open their doors to provide the spiritual help and prayer we needed. Facebook was lit up with prayer requests from everyone and help from many offering their encouragement in one way or another. All of these things helped our mental, social, and spiritual needs. Many fled which took care of their psychological need to find mental peace and safety for their loved ones. So many stepped up to the plate during Hurricane Irma.
But are we putting forth the same effort in our marriages? Ladies, just because your husband provides a place for you to live and food for you to eat does not mean that he’s providing for all of your needs. Those things fall under physical needs which are important, but you can’t neglect your other needs which are equally as important to have mental health and a sense of personhood. I am amazed at how low women’s standards have become when it comes to their needs. If your husband is not meeting your needs, please take note and meet those needs for yourself. However, meeting each other’s basic human needs and supporting one another to reach them is part of having a healthy marriage. We must obviously provide these things for our children as well. This is a tall order, I know.
The Trajectory Of Any Storm Is Unpredictable
With Hurricane Irma, we were told for days that the eye of the storm was going to come to West Palm Beach, FL. For this reason, many fled north and west to take shelter away from the storm. Everyone’s nerves were racked beyond imagination. I witnessed road rage in days preceding as I had never witnessed before. People were driving erratically and acting like the world was going to come to an end. People were fighting over water and bread. When it was all said and done, West Palm Beach ended up not even being in the cone of the dangerous hurricane track. I know that I gained at least 5 lbs just from the amount of chocolate that I ate to get through it. Living in this kind of chaos and uncertainty is not sustainable. We are all thankful that Irma is no longer a threat, but her repercussions will be for many more months and years to come.
Similarly, marriage is not supposed to be an endless painful experience. Marriage is hard, no doubt. But it is not meant to be a perpetual chaotic experience. Even huge hurricane disasters eventually come to an end, get cleaned up and a sense of normalcy ensues. If there isn’t any form of normalcy at any point for you, then you have gotten used to the toxic environment and the chaos. That has become your coping mechanism. You are focused solely on damage control to survive. You spin in this stationary cycle and don’t know how to stop it. There is help for you. Get the help that you need to stop the endless, painful cycle. To live this way is not healthy.
To Rebuild Is Crucial
The most encouraging part of Hurricane Irma has been watching people from all over the United States mobilize and prepare for what was coming. The list is endless of the people who had the forethought, compassion, and the care to prepare to help those affected by this horrible hurricane. Thousands of troops were dispatched, organizations like Unicef, World Vision, the Florida National Guard, and the Red Cross took their place and were ready to help. All you had to do was turn on the news to witness people caring about their neighbors by cutting down the trees that were blocking their doors, people being rescued by boats from flooded waters, and massive clean up procedures to get life back to normal as soon as possible.
It took Homestead, FL two years to recover from Hurricane Andrew back in 1992. It could take up to 20 years for a city to recover from a big hurricane like Katrina in 2005. Katrina was the most costly hurricane at 108 billion dollars in damages. These cities eventually bounce back in time because of the work they put in to rebuild.
We saw it in New York when the World Trade Centers were hit by terrorists. It took people working around the clock for eight months to remove the debris and bodies from the site. Ten years after that, we have the Freedom Tower in its place to symbolize victory over terrorism. None of that would have happened if people did not have the courage, desire, and fortitude to rebuild. Many exposed themselves to diseases like cancer and died while trying to rebuild.
The saddest part that I have witnessed in marriages is when there is no desire or effort put forth to rebuild after the destruction hits. When one is in a state of indifference and denial, it’s impossible to rebuild. The debris and emotional destruction just lay there because there is no effort from anyone involved to pick up a branch or a brick. Diseases soon take over because it is unnatural to leave destruction exposed for everyone to be affected by it without cleaning any of it up. It is very unfortunate to witness and experience no effort being put forth by anyone when hard work is what is needed for rebuilding what has been damaged in the marriage. You see this even in third world countries. When disaster hits, they get busy working. Going to counseling, admitting you were wrong, asking for forgiveness, and changing your ways is very hard. Instead, some people choose to just exist among the dangers that will continue to exist.
Hurricanes bring health and safety hazards along with it such as infectious diseases from standing water, chemical hazards, electrocution, rodents, snakes, and alligators on the loose, cuts, lacerations, gas leaks, and the list goes on and on and on.
Minimizing, ignoring, and being indifferent to the destruction of your marriage will bring hardness of hearts, anger, resentment, trauma, and emotional and physical disease. The other component that is necessary and many times missing is that team effort is needed. If not from the whole family, counselors, and friends, at the very least from the husband and wife. It is impossible to rebuild something of this mass destruction by yourself. All you can do at that point is rebuild yourself and hope to salvage what’s left of your family in any way that you can. When you let the marital problems go on for too long without getting the help that you need, you run the risk of the family feeling hopeless, and you are then left alone to fight for it. Don’t let yourself get that far into it. Many times it is irreversible. At that point, the ship cannot get turned around.
As we dwell on these concepts, please know that you are not alone. There is help for anything under the sun in this great nation of ours if you want it and reach out for it. The key is getting the help early enough to prevent the greater catastrophes that mass destruction brings. Irma has since evaporated. We are all trying to get back to normalcy as best as we can. Many more storms will continue to come our way. May we be prepared and diligent to deal with them as they arise. Get the help that you need for your marriage and please do not feel ashamed. Dealing with regret is a lot harder than feeling some unjustified temporary shame for asking for help.
“Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.” Proverbs 11:1
By Daisy Daniel Kropp