As a marriage coach for over twenty-five years, I know that even the best marriages have their own special challenges. Inadequate communication, silent treatment and financial troubles are some of the most common issues couples face. This year has intensified the normal issues and has some marriages questioning their future. The COVID-19 virus has created uncommon fears and health concerns while social unrest and racial tension have caused a rethinking of how we view our world.
As a result, there has been a marked uptick in couples seeking counseling. But difficult times don’t have to automatically translate into difficult marriages and being quarantined together for long periods of time does not have to be a marriage death sentence.
Pre-COVID, people getting out of the house during a regular workweek served as a respite from each other. It gave couples a chance to experience much needed alone time. Quarantine, however, removes that option, so couples are now faced with continually seeing each other. This can truly test what your relationship is made of. Here are two suggestions to help you through the struggle.
- Talk to Each Other More
Ironically, some couples find that they have nothing to talk about now that they are stuck in the house. It’s similar to the empty nest syndrome, where the kids, who served as a distraction and provided subject matter for the couple, are suddenly gone and the couple now has to talk to each other. This is where spouses have to force themselves to break the silence. Even if you feel there is nothing to talk about, talk about why there is nothing to talk about. It may be because you have not probed deep into each other’s emotions. This is the time to do so. Dig deeper, and as painful as it may be, force yourself to talk about emotions and feelings.
- Don’t Just Talk About the Problems
While quarantined, the issues we would normally ignore can become grossly exaggerated. You will start to notice things you have never noticed before or second-guess each other’s intentions. This is a result of proximity overload. So the natural thing is to complain about what bothers you. While I do not advocate stuffing problems and not talking, I do believe that some minor issues can be handled on your own without discussion, especially during quarantine. You may need to take a few hours to be in separate rooms. While isolated, collect your thoughts and stop listening to the negative voices in your head. After you’ve re-energized, emerge with a fresh perspective and talk about the things you like about your spouse.
Remember, the only real problem in your marriage is the one you choose to fight over and not resolve. Discuss with solutions in mind. If you are just trying to win or make a point, there will never be resolution. Your mate needs to know your heart, not just your point of view.