This time that we are currently living through, no one could have imagined. Coronavirus has literally and quickly taken a hold of our lives and changed them temporarily, but in major ways. We are working from home or having to work under stressful conditions, confined to our homes and sheltering in place as this crisis passes. Being at home day after day with your spouse, kids or other family members can be difficult and stressful. For married couples there is usually some space throughout a day where you have to be apart whether it be for work or school, running errands or just being with friends, there is normally some space and distance; not always having to be under the same roof, all day every day. This can start to take a toll on marriage if you aren’t mindful and consciously aware of how to cope through these times, especially if you already had serious issues you were dealing with. Maybe you argue more about past issues that aren’t resolved or small issues become big issues, and pet peeves are now more magnified that you are knit-picking with each other.
Take a deep breath! We aren’t sure how long this will last, but here are a few tips that hopefully will help you get through this together and come out on the other side of this stronger and still married:
1. Discuss the coronavirus. Being able to be open and honest about the situation, fears you may have and how this may change your household temporarily will be helpful. Letting each other talk and listening to each other about things will help keep your line of communication open and being vulnerable in this conversation will help you both feel closer and supported. Also discuss what changes need to take place to make sure the household continues to run smoothly and safely.
2. Do not use this as a time to discuss long-standing, serious issues. While there is time and opportunity, this probably isn’t a good time to bring up difficult conversations while you’re both quarantined in your home together. This could cause bigger issues and arguments that may cause more stress. Instead if these issues come up, acknowledge them, set boundaries if need be and put the conversations on hold once things are back to normal, and consider discussing those issues in therapy at a later date. If the issue can’t wait, consider scheduling an online therapy session.
3. Spend quality time. It is still important to spend time together during this crisis as a family and as a couple. Making plans to watch movies together, binge-watch a show, take short walks, board games, talking, cuddling or things that you can do to connect and pay attention to each other will keep you connected.
4. Give each other space. While of course quality time together is great, it’s also natural to want time to yourself. Discuss this so it’s not perceived as you are ignoring each other or distancing yourself; what does breaks or space look like? During the space that you give each other, make sure that you are spending this time doing something you need or want to do for yourself. Being able to have this space will help you both not feel smothered as well as will give you an opportunity to miss each other, if only for a little while.
5. Practice self-care. Make sure you are checking in with yourself and each other mentally, emotionally and physically. Continue to exercise, eat healthy and finding ways to stimulate your mind. When you take care of yourself, you feel good.
6. Get support. Therapy is still available to couples during this time to work on issues or stress as a result of this situation or you may just want to start couples counseling because you now have more time. Either way if you feel that you need support either as a couple or individual, video sessions are available, so reach out for that support.
It’s not completely known what will come over the next few weeks, but this will definitely be over at some point. Use these tips to make your home life and relationship a little easier and not a source of stress as we all navigate this difficult time. Continue to stay at home if you are able, practice self-distancing and wash your hands. Be safe!