Who would have guessed that the novel coronavirus would have us stuck quarantined at home for weeks on end? Within only a few short weeks, we have gone from "business as usual" to our lives being put on halt. It's a huge adjustment for any person, and can negatively impact marriages if not handled appropriately. If you are worried about how you and your spouse will handle this new season, take these tips to heart.
Be respectful of their reaction to the crisis.
The COVID-19 crisis is an unprecedented time for our country. No one could have ever predicted we would spend the beginning of 2020 stuck in our homes, dealing with a financial crisis, all because of a deadly virus. This adds a huge amount of stress to anyone; even those you might think are handling it well. Every one of us is adjusting to the new normal in our own ways, and we have to be respectful of that process. Your spouse may have days where things are going great, while other days they may feel more overwhelmed, frustrated, or upset than normal. Make sure to offer them support on the low days so they understand they aren't in this mess alone.
Talk about the changes together.
The coronavirus has taken many things away from us. People are losing their jobs and family members, and day to day life looks nothing like it once did. Even the happiest of couples are feeling the weight of this crisis. It's important to be open and communicate about the pain you are feeling with your significant other. It's normal to be scared that the quarantine will cause fights, so why not bring it up before it becomes a problem? It's courageous to say, "I am worried about being home so much, and I'll try to be aware of how the change is affecting my behavior so I don't take my negative emotions out on you." Once you acknowledge that you both are feeling loss, you'll be able to move forward as a team.
Call friends and family often.
When your spouse is the only person you talk to 24/7, you may find yourself getting bored or talking about the same things over and over again. While talking with your spouse is always important, think of how many social interactions you have on a typical day. You're talking with your boss, the cashier at the gas station, or other parent's at your child's school. Don't deny yourself those other important conversations by making sure to talk to friends and family often. They can be other great sources of support and it will feel good to connect with them.
Do activities alone.
Just because you are stuck inside with each other all day doesn't mean you have to do every activity together. While your spouse is cooking dinner for the night, go outside and work some on your garden. If you really love reading, make sure to pick up your favorite book and go on the back porch while your spouse watches their favorite TV show. Space will allow you all some alone-time to relax. When we are cooped up together without any privacy, we tend to snap at those we love. Doing things you love to do on your own will give you some relief.
Don't try to fix long-term issues.
If you and your spouse were struggling with issues before quarantine, it might feel like the perfect time to try and fix everything. It's actually quite the opposite. This is a novel situation we are all in, and we're already feeling the weight of the world on our shoulders. Set boundaries about any difficult topics such as infidelity or money issues. This doesn't mean you are sweeping the problem under the rug. Rather, you are acknowledging that this is not an ideal time to try and discuss such hot-button topics. Surviving the coronavirus as a couple is instead the first priority.
Consider online therapy.
If you and your spouse simply can't get on the same page, don't give up yet. Therapy is still an option because many doctors are offering it virtually. A counselor may be able to help you and your spouse make better decisions about how you spend your time together. It will also give you a space to be more honest about how the virus is affecting you. Your counselor will not judge what you are going through, because they too are feeling the effects of the changing world. Even if you and your spouse have never been to therapy before, it's worth a shot given the additional pressure put on your marriage.
Keep an attitude of gratitude.
The best way to stay happy with your spouse during quarantine is by constantly reminding yourself why you love them in the first place. Keep an eye out throughout the day for ways you can show gratitude to your spouse. Maybe you are thankful they helped you make dinner, put away laundry, or kept the kids entertained while you worked. It’s important to express that thanks to your partner for the small tasks they are doing so that they can feel supported, noticed, and loved. Don’t let the only thing you and your spouse talk about be how negative this whole experience is.
The coronavirus is not something anyone expected. As a couple, it can be hard to overcome the challenges of being stuck together at home all the time. However, with love, respect, and communication it can be accomplished. Don’t underestimate how this is affecting you as a couple, and work as a team to face problems head-on so that you can get out of this stronger than ever.