Living Columns & Blogs

Apply focus to make it through the tough times

Getty Images/iStockphoto

My brother John has a response to challenges, “timing of life” he says. Right place, right time or right place, wrong time is the common wisdom he’s describing.

It can apply to life, love and business. Regarding business, it helps to have the resources, the idea and the opportunity all at the same time. Without even one of these, the timing of life leaves you wanting.

Timing also is important in coupling. A recent complaint was how the timing had failed. The couple had been married many years and sometimes he’d be down, sometimes she’d be down, but always one had been up and able to carry the both of them. But different stressors had brought them both low and resulted in them turning on each other. They had nothing to offer the other and both felt abandoned and ignored.

By talking about it and examining the timing, they realized nothing was anymore wrong than they both felt unsupported. This simple awareness allowed them to turn their hurt into concern. They reached toward each other and quickly began to feel better.

I’ve been doing some math. It is totally speculative and anecdotal, so just roll with me here. Let’s just say she has a bad day and he has a good day. This adds up to a tough time of consoling and mood management. Or, he has a bad day and she has a good day. It still adds up to a bad day.

Like I noted earlier, we know the double doom when both have bad days. This definitely results in disaster. Finally, there is the small possibility that both have good days. Rainbows emerge, children laugh and unicorns prance happily.

Apparently, you can be happy in your relationship about 25 percent of the time. It’s a wonder relationships ever work at all!

Sincerely, many, many people have satisfying, life giving relationships that not only survive the difficult times but even become stronger. Times of loss and illness, challenges and hard choices all become building blocks for deeper and more meaningful relationships.

Focus solves the dilemma. Focus works us through the problem. The timing may not be good, but focus will get us to the other side.

My wife and I recently had a date night and saw the movie “Sully,” the story of a passenger airliner landing on the Hudson River in the middle of New York City. Geese knocked out both engines and it could not have happened at a worse time. With no thrust, the pilot, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, made a decision to land the plane the only place he could — the river.

In the movie, he retrospectively remembers a teacher telling him, “no matter what happens, fly the plane.” We can hear this simple and clear directive to get through a tough time. We would do well to remember such focus in our own difficult times.

“I have the plane,” Sully says. He takes it in hand and glides it into a miracle landing on the Hudson River, saving all on board. Like Sully, we can get through tough times with focus. Stay responsible for those in your care. Mind your commitment to the one beside you. Happy landing!

Bruce Conn is a licensed marriage and family therapist, and works with individuals and couples. Contact him at or call 478-742-1464.