guest blog



Share this: facebooktwittermail

Life is like a game of dodge ball.  It’s not if you’ll get hit, it’s when.

When disaster strikes from the outside, like natural disasters, or the crises are generated from the inside of your marriage, here are the essentials you must have ready to use in your own “Marriage Emergency Medical Kit.”

You probably have these items in your own medical kits at home or in the trunk of your car.  These are symbolic, yes…but practical and meaningful for marriage as well!

Flashlight: You have to shine a light on the trouble.  Don’t pretend or deny that the marital problem is not there. And as with all flashlights, make sure you have extra batteries because you may need to use the flashlight for a while as you explore the true nature of the issues.

Few things are scarier than trying to find your way around a marital emergency in the dark and not knowing what you’re really dealing with.  Ask questions to understand and get to the truth. It is what remains in the dark that will keep you stumbling.

Blanket: You need to feel warm so you don’t go into shock…so put a blanket around each other. You need to be able to feel safe from harm in your environment, served and protected during the most difficult times. If you see your mate shutting down do this quickly. This symbolic blanket also represents healthy boundaries that need to be established to protect the injured.

Energy Bars: You must try to stay strong during this time to hold up against the stress.  Eat well and be mindful of your health, sleep well, reduce alcohol, exercise to work off the stress and stay compliant with your medications.  This time is very demanding and may require all the strength and energy you have.

Clean Water: Yes we will die without fresh water in a matter of a couple days.  Think about it – what do we do immediately when someone is feeling weak or injured?  We get them water because the brain can’t function and we can’t endure or heal without it. It keeps all systems moving.

If your faith practice is an important component of your life, draw on the strength of your spirituality and faith community to pray and support your family’s systems at this time of crisis with what is often referred to as the “Living Water” of God.

 Bandages: Every emergency kit has bandages in all shapes and sizes for different wounds. To give your spouse the right emergency aid, you need to ask them three questions: 

  1. Where does it hurt? Then when they tell you, don’t argue that they don’t really have a hurt or it is in the wrong place or it is not as bad as yours.
  1. What kind of wound was inflicted? Do they feel like they’ve been sliced, gouged, punctured, pinched, burned, broken, sprained, been shot or hit by a 2×4? Unseen and internal wounds of the heart can be more deadly than you realize. Let them define how it hurts.              
  1. Who did this to you? It may be you, another person or your spouse who brought it on. Whoever it is, they need to take responsibility in a meaningful way if at all possible. That is a major part of the healing process.

Antibacterial Ointment:  This protects the wound from further infection.  It is your job to make sure ointment gets put on the wound to protect it from things that could create infection… like name calling, sarcasm, contempt, threats and ultimatum. In essence, poison talk that adds your or another’s insult to the injury during stressful times.

Tissues: simple but effective…dry their eyes, wipe the snot from under the nose and say, “I can see you are hurting and I am so sorry that it feels so bad. What can I do to help?”  Then you take the cotton swabs, clean out your own ears and listen.  Listening and not interrupting with your interpretation or defensiveness is a powerful healing tool.

A Whistle: This comes in all emergency kits.  It means when I blow this whistle, it is an ALARM! I am in trouble, or we are in trouble…I need help immediately. I give you permission to step in and give me this marital first aid treatment.  It doesn’t matter who blows it first, the other person must respond. A whistle can be figurative, a code word that you two come up with such as “CODE BLUE” or “Houston we have a problem.” Something that says, I’ve broken the emergency glass and pulled the lever so come running toward me –– not away from me.

Hot & Cold Pack Treatment:  This represents the list of things that you need more of or less of that will help soothe the ache while you are in crisis. These do not replace the real long-term solution, but they give traction to the wheels of the ambulance while you’re on the way to the marriage hospital.

These are things that are meaningful to you and your spouse individually.  Things you’ve identified to each other that will help make a difference in the day to day and give you both stamina and tenacity as you go through this season of difficulty.  It starts like this:  “I feel weakened by this emergency and I need…” Then identify specific things.  This is a list you need to make as fast as possible with your partner to refer to immediately. Remember, this is emergency care.

Items on your list could include favorite food, cuddling, more sex or less of it, quiet time, a night out of fun, time with my family, less time with your family, chocolate, flowers, a night with the guys or girls, people over, no one over for a while, less housework, help with the kids or home business, more church, more prayer, more conversation, time with a therapist, seeing a doctor, a massage, doing something creative, more or less time with kids, or time for doing a hobby or sport.

Then you and your spouse try your hardest to manage the schedule and create the funds and resources to accommodate these things because they are specifically medicinal for your partner.  And you will see how quickly it will impact a potentially damaging stress level.

Life Jacket:  this is a big item, but it is used when you feel like you’re drowning and you have to have something to strap on which keeps you afloat, safe and hopeful.  The safety jacket you sit down and create today for each other is made up of three big promises you have made to your spouse that you promise never to break…promises that you are giving each other to hold onto in times of major trouble. Promises that define your love.

Why three?  You make one that is unique for you, your spouse makes a promise that is unique and meaningful to them and then you both make one that is the same promise for each other.

Examples could be — I will not have an affair,I will not betray your confidence, I will never hit or abuse you, I will stand by you when you are sick, I won’t go back to drinking, drugs, gambling or pornography, I will respect your family, I will protect you from harmful people, I won’t be jealous, I will take care of my health, We will always be in a church community, We will get support, I will be sexually available to you,  I will never stop praying for you, I will always listen, I will support your talent, I will respect your work, I will be faithful and frugal with our money, I will always tell you the truth.

A couple I counseled got an actual orange life vest and wrote their 3 promises in marker on it and kept it in their hall closet.  They later pulled it out and reclaimed their promises as a reminder of how to buoy themselves up so they could swim when the undertow was strong and the waves were smashing against their marriage.

Emergency Numbers:  These are essential items to have on the ready ahead of time so you never go it alone. Write down specific names and contact numbers of good people you know well and trust who have proven reliable.  Safe family members, support groups, pastors and rabbis, imam, therapists, mentors, financial advisor, doctors, and especially your sponsor if you’ve been in a 12-step program.  Every research study ever done shows that reaching out to a trusted friend is critical in the successful management of a crisis or emergency.

Medical Tape: Every emergency kit has this. But I suggest you use it for an actual visual reminder you need during a crisis.   Take a piece of tape about three ft. long and tape it in a straight line across the ground.

Now you and your partner stand respectfully and lovingly next to each other on one side of the line.  Identify the emergency or crisis that you are experiencing and put it on the other side of the line. And that is how you keep it in perspective.

Your marriage covenant called you and your spouse to be on the same side of the line focused on fighting the emergency issue itself on the other side of the line. Fighting for the life of your marriage – the “we,” not fighting each other because of the “me.” Always remember, the true enemy is the emergency issue you face off, not each other.

So I am suggesting that whether you feel you are in a state of emergency now or if you ever might be (and the odds of that are pretty high) now is the time to sit down with each other and prepare these 12 key items in your Marriage Emergency Kit. Because in marriage, we are each other’s “First Responders.” And no one should get left behind or left untreated in a crisis!

“Love is a mutual self-giving which end is self-recovery” – Fulton J. Sheen

Anne W. Lee, M.A., MFT is a conference speaker and licensed Marriage and Family Therapist is the Los Angeles area, specializing in work with couples and women in transitions of life.  She has been married 30 years to comedian Robert G. Lee, raised and emptied the nest of two adventurous and creative children and lived to tell the tale with a grin.  If she were to get a tattoo it would proclaim; Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much! in red.  Find her at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


Lift it Up!

Please share your prayer requests with us so we can Lift You Up!

Bring it Up!

Join the conversation! What topics would you like us to Bring Up on the radio show?

Your email address will not be published or be displayed anywhere on our website. We do not rent or sell your personal information to other organizations, companies or individuals.For more information please see our privacy policy/financial reports.