How strange. I think that every time my four-year-old tells me a story lately. It starts with, “Hey mom, remember before coronavirus when we . . . ” Yes, sweetie. I remember. Seems like eons ago at this point.
We are all hanging in there. Some better than others. Our marriage-counselor hearts are so grateful that technology has allowed us to keep working with our couples. We hear the stories of each couple in quarantine. It’s a mixture of anxiety, fear, boredom, sadness, depression, connection, appreciation of the slow-down, annoyance, and grief, among many others.
For some, they are reconnecting like never before. Spending time together for the first time in years has helped their relationship. They report, “things are actually better between us.” The tension from their disconnected, busy lives has lightened a bit in quarantine. For others, it’s quite the opposite. They entered quarantine with a variety of struggles and marital hardships that only seem to be exacerbated in the close confines of their home. Or, they are experiencing a level of anxiety or quarantine-related stress that is negatively impacting their relationships in quarantine.
Whether quarantine has helped or hurt your marriage, we have some tips to help keep your marriage and your sanity intact.
- Have a daily coronavirus check-in. Couples don’t always have time in their busy lives to check in everyday. Sometimes it’s not till the week’s end before we have time to sit down with our partners and debrief. In quarantine, this needs to happen daily. Couples who are faring well are sharing their daily anxieties, struggles, disappointments and triumphs with each other. 15-20 minutes. Brainstorm your solutions for the next day. And then let it go. Don’t talk about coronavirus all day every day.
- Affection. With the exception of our kids/pets draped on us all day, we are starved for affection. We aren’t getting hugs from our friends, extended family, or neighbors. We need to be touched by people we love. And spouse, that is you and you only I’m afraid. We need all the cuddles, back rubs, hugs, and kisses every day.
- Fun. It’s okay to have fun! Couples who are doing well in quarantine are being creative with their fun. Look at old picture albums, dream about trips you want to take when we can move freely around the world again, have a board game tournament, cook together, play basketball, watch a Netflix series, or schedule a couples date night with your fav friends through Zoom. So many options!
- Have a good attitude. Everyone is feeling the effects of a socially-starved life. All the canceled plans and disappointments are felt by us all. We know these aren’t the memories you were planning to have, but they are different memories. Couples are doing better when they are shifting their attitude away from all the disappointments and focusing more on creating positive quarantine memories. What a unique time to create memories. We will never forget this time of our lives.
- Don’t judge each other. THESE ARE NOT OUR BEST SELVES! We aren’t meant to live life like this and therefore, we are showing colors in us that were never supposed to be seen. Don’t judge yourself or your partner for how you are reacting. Give lots of grace right now.
- Take time away from each other. It’s nothing personal, we just don’t like hanging out with you all day every day.
- Be a comfort to each other. Whatever your spouse is struggling with right now, tell them how valid their fears, worries, and disappointments are. Talk to them about it. Give them a comforting ear and empathize with them. Let COVID-19 be the thing that pulls you closer together. Going through hard times together can pull you together, only if you lean on each other and find comfort in each other.
Finally, to all the essential workers that are on the front lines, we know that you aren’t in the position to “have fun.” We know that you are focused on survival and “creating positive memories” is not a possibility when you are saving lives or working so the rest of us can buy food, medicine, and other necessities. We see you and we thank you!
Stay connected to your spouse . . . but six feet away from everyone else!
~Lori and Shanna