Hurricane Irma caused significant physical damage and disruptions throughout the Caribbean and the state of Florida. The storm preparations caused many to feel overwhelmed, stressed out, and feeling on edge; however, the emotional impact post these types of natural disasters are often ignored. Additionally, significant emotional arousal throughout the preparations and post-hurricane disruptions, can increase conflict between family members and significant others. While many are attempting to get back into their routines, some are starting to question whether or not Hurricane Irma could have affected their marriage or other relationships. The stress associated with hurricane preparations could easily trigger tension between individuals, resulting in a strained relationship after the hurricane. Research even indicates that divorce rates have been noted to actually increase following significant natural disasters. The increased emotional arousal could cause some people to become explosive, controlling, and demanding, while others may completely shut-down and become more aloof. Many individuals might have seen a different and unfamiliar side to their partners, which could either be a positive or negative thing for the relationship. For example, a wife who witnessed her husband shut-down during this stressful event may now question his ability to protect and support their family during other difficult moments in the future. However, a husband who witnessed his wife take action and felt that he and his wife were able to handle the stressors associated with the hurricane as a team, may feel a closer connection to his wife and identify his marriage as being stronger.
“Am I going through a post-hurricane divorce?”
If you are experiencing increased conflict or disappointment in your relationship that may have either been triggered or exacerbated by the stress of Hurricane Irma, then it is important to become aware of factors that were already impacting the relationship. Acknowledging and recognizing that you and your significant other may handle stressful situations differently is crucial and finding ways to handle these situations in the future is necessary in order to have a positive and healthy relationship. By asking yourself, “are we able to work through these issues now and throughout our future together?” before considering a break-up or separation is important, as some research has shown that many couples tend to break-up shortly after natural disasters. Recovery from an event such as Hurricane Irma may be a long and difficult process that may require the help of a professional to assist in building effective coping skills. Please contact the Miami Psychology Group if you are interested in individual, couples, or family psychotherapy services. We serve Miami and Miami Beach areas.