Top 5 Coronavirus Marriage Survival Tips for Being Stuck at Home
‘Quarantine quarrels’ are about to become ‘a thing’ in marriages home-based school closure prevention measures. Quarrels are also going to be ‘a thing’ if you and your spouse have conflicting views about how to manage the changes in your lives in response to the virus.
These changes include viewpoints and responses in relation to (a) coronavirus contagion risks / quarantine measures, (b) income changes or job losses; (c) travel restrictions, or (d) a loved one who’s at risk of becoming ill with COVID-19.
You’re certainly not alone if you and your spouse disagree about the risks. In fact, it’s rare a couple will have the same view about this issue.
Having different views is normal — so is feeling stressed with so much uncertainty in these unprecedented times.
There are so many opinions coming in from everywhere that even though the risk may remain somewhat low in some areas, I prefer to err on the safe side with the view that the risk is certainly not insignificant and doing our part to keep our community and our loved ones safe is becoming our new way of life for some indefinite time. Not to mention that if quarantine measures become a Government directive compliance will have an impact on your life…but here are some tips for managing the change.
Couples may find themselves arguing more when they’re stuck at home together with the kids, and nowhere to go outside the home, for weeks at a time. Or if they have very different views on what constitutes as ‘necessary protections’ versus ‘acceptable risks’.
So what can you do to minimise the quarantine quarrels and help your marriage survive the unexpected doses of 24/7 togetherness — and other pressures that come with major change?
Preparing for the effects of coronavirus quarantines on your marriage.
- As we brace for self-isolation, social distancing, lockdown and other health-protective measures, we’re bound to face new pressures in our primary relationships.
- Our marriages will either be a source of comfort, welcomed togetherness and a pleasant distraction from the news;
- OR they may leave us feeling unheard, disrespected and dismayed — especially if we strongly disagree with our spouses about what should be done, and for how long.
No doubt you’re a bit anxious and dismayed facing a home-bound quarantine period with spouse and kids in tow. We all are!
It can be especially daunting if you and your spouse have opposing opinions on how to best handle home-based preparations, re-organizing home routines and sharing the extra workload this will inevitably bring into your home. Even right down to the extra dishes, glasses and mugs being used.
Yes it’s a stressful time. And many of us are feeling anxious and uncertain about the future.
Having some ideas for passing the time can soothe your emotions also setting up day schedules with built in time planned for enjoyable coffee breaks or shared lunch times. Especially if you see the changes, and time availability, as an opportunity to complete some rewarding projects. But DO avoid the drudgery ones — or it’ll worsen the impact of being quarantined. Don’t add to the fray; make the most of it, instead.
So here are my top 5 coronavirus marriage survival tips so you can feel more prepared about what’s to come, and minimise the stress on your marriage — and emotions — during this already challenging time.
How to minimise the Quarantine Quarrels (a Coronavirus Marriage Survival Guide).
Top 5 Coronavirus Marriage Survival Tips
1. Plan for some fun experiences at home; but DON’T start on long-overdue projects that you dread (or see as drudgery) — or the quarantine will feel worse.
- Expect quarantine to last for up to several months, and plan fun activities on a daily basis and some rewarding projects.
- But remember, there’s a difference between ‘rewarding’ projects and the ‘drudgery’ ones — prioritise the rewarding ones.
- Some must be those you can do alone (to get your alone time, if needed).
- Some should be able to be done together.
- Getting the right mix, percentage-wise, is important and needs some thought and helpful discussion.
Avoid the stressful projects that you disagree on, or see as drudgery — these will only make the quarantine period seem worse than it is.
But completing a rewarding project can actually give you an emotional reprieve from the stress.
In normal times strong marriages stay healthy due to having a balanced ratio of alone-time vs together-time.
During a quarantine, this is going to change; and it can take some time adjusting. In fact, it’s not dissimilar to what some couples go through when one retires and is suddenly at home more than they were; or when both parties change how often they co-exist in the same space and time frames.
At a minimum, a quarantine reduces the daily time-separations a couple often relies upon to find their individual equilibrium, such as gym time or meditation time or time in the shed. Be sure you keep some form of balance…as best you can. Set boundaries on together time and give each other quiet space away from the children (take turns) so you can sustain your personal emotional equilibrium and physical health (as in #2 below).
2. Make sure you stick to some form of your exercise routine.
You’ll feel better physically and emotionally if you can keep up some form of regular physical exercise.
- Exercise reduces stress and is important for physical and emotional health.
- So make sure one of the first steps you take is to figure out how you’ll continue with your exercise routines.
- If going outside but not socialising is an option, then walks, runs or cycling — albeit slightly altered — may still be the go.
- If you like gym classes, find some videos or download an exercise class series.
3. Get acclimatized to the fact this could last for weeks or months.
Knowing what to expect is half the battle of uncertainty-based anxiety. The trouble so far is we haven’t known what to expect, but now we’re getting clearer messages in these unprecedented times. So if you acclimatize yourself to the fact this could be a long-haul adventure, you’ll feel more capable of coping.
- Don’t fan your stress levels by thinking it will pass in a matter of days.
- Keep in mind it is likely that some social-distancing measures might last for months.
- It is also a risk that a loved one may become unwell; the healthier you are, because you’re taking time to yourself and exercising; the more readily you’ll be able to cope with whatever comes.
- Try to remind yourself that you can handle whatever comes, and that life isn’t always controllable; control what you can…and let the rest go.
- Take productive steps to manage the key stressors caused by the uncertainty; e.g. income planning, learning a new skill, and so forth.
These quarantine measures — and the impact on industries and jobs — may also drastically change the degree of travelling of one or both partners. Some families may revel in the time together, but others will struggle with ‘too much togetherness for weeks on end’ — or have to cope with other lifestyle changes related to income-loss from the fallout effects. If you can start planning as far in advance as you can, and have some fun ideas for family-at-home times as well as long-overdue projects you can somehow make into rewarding FUN times, this can go a long way towards getting you through the quarantine periods.
4. Expect quarantine quarrels. But instead of arguing points, try to listen to one another as if you were brand new as a couple.
- How easy we forget who we first fell in love with.
- How soon we end up harbouring resentments and disappointments and taking a superiority approach to our spouses.
Turn this around, during quarantine, by getting to know your partner again. Listen more than talk, and really open up and share with one another. Most importantly make time for one another.
- But if the relationship is disrespectful, you might benefit from some couples-coaching or self-paced courses to learn how to reconnect rather than disconnect.
- In fact, this time together may be just the time to work seriously on repairing your marriage and getting ‘back to love’ — even if that requires a few sessions with a marriage counsellor or couples communication facilitator.
- Call me to find out how I can help you use this quarantine time to get back to really listening to each other, respectfully, and healing your marriage in a stronger, healthier way (if you’ve gotten off track). Book your call with me
5. Understand that individuals may have different risk-taking perceptions and fears.
The impact of the coronavirus quarantine’s 24/7 togetherness on your marriage may be exacerbated if you both have very different views of risks.
Couples often have different risk-taking perspectives. When it comes to a global crisis, these differences will rear their heads. If this is your scenario, learn how to handle varying views by learning how to communicate differences in a healthy, respectful way.
Some marriage therapy theorists suggest that married couples are most harmonious when they have similar approaches to risk-taking. But in my view, that’s something that counts, but there are many factors to how a person perceives a risk…and which actions they choose to take.
- Risk taking is an area, however, where disagreements can grow to all-out wars.
- Especially if a couple isn’t focussed on respecting each other’s opinions and to negotiate healthy solutions that work for both.
Couples often disagree about what measures to take when a crisis looms…whether that’s a health risk like COVID-19, a financial risk like starting a business or changing jobs (or going part-time instead of full-time when the kids come along)…or whether to move to a different home further from or closer to the grandparents.
The more similar the risk-taking then the easier it is to adapt to change and to make your plans together, in harmony, despite the stress.
But if not — if you’re really different — then you’ll need to hone your communication skills and learn to accept some differences between you.
Solutions should, however, be those that work for both; and when a risk involves both people and their loved ones; it is likely both need to be open and honest about their fears and anxieties, and their knowledge and research — and respect the views of the person who has a stronger sense of the medical risks involves. It’s too easy to take sides; one wanting to minimise the risks, the other being fearful to the point of panic.
But the balance isn’t in the middle — the risks, while minimal so far in many areas, are real. And the curve needs to be flattened. The “experts” are saying while most people who get the virus will have minimal illness, some will be extremely ill. So whoever has done the most solid research on the topic should be permitted to share that knowledge in a respectful way; and to be heard.
But both parties need to listen and work out a solution that works for both. In fact, I knew a couple who had a way to settle disagreements. Whoever the topic mattered the most to, whoever was most passionate about the issue, ‘won’ the toss. It worked for them…not sure it works for everyone but that’s how they decided when it came to strongly opposing views.
Summary: Will your marriage survive the quarantine quarrels?
Couples usually fall into two or three different camps. These categories will become increasingly obvious during times of stress / quarantine situations.
Here’s a summary of these categories; but remember, there are many variations. No two couples are ever alike; so forgive me in advance for making generalisations…but do you recognise yourself, and your spouse, in any of them?
The first is couples who get along really well on a holiday; but sometimes fight about the day-to-day things.
Then there are those couples who get along really well when they’re NOT on holiday — e.g. they do the day-to-day things well — but have arguments when they travel or choose what to do when they have time off work.
The third type is a couple who’s just arguing a lot, about almost everything, and neither home life nor vacation-time/holiday time is peaceful.
All couples sometimes need a bit of support at various times of their marriages. The coronavirus health crisis is likely to be one of those times.
The biggest difficulty to ever hit a marriage is about to show it’s face — being relegated to staying inside, at home …potentially for weeks on end.
Or at least staying on our property, except for crucial outings to the grocery shops or pharmacy…or whatever/wherever you’re permitted to go while we wait out the ‘flattening the curve’ measures to minimise our losses and reduce the demands on our healthcare systems.
In summary, re coronavirus quarantines and marriages / survival tips:
- We’re facing unprecedented times.
- Never in our history have we faced such as rapidly-moving virus that has spread globally so widely, so fast.
- So be sure you do all you can to nurture your relationships — including using the time to strengthen and repair the bond, with help from an online relationship coach or marriage therapy if needed. You’d be surprised what just a few sessions can do to open your eyes to unhealthy patterns of relating to one another which have developed over time and are creating havoc in these new uncertain times.
Now’s your chance to heal your marriage….Book your call with me