As more cities and states across the country order residents to “stay at home,” the dynamic between married couples is being tested like never before. While some people have effectively been in isolation for several weeks, others are just now adjusting to our “new normal,” and the consequences for couples forced to cope with stress and anxiety in close quarters is becoming universal.
Spending more time at home with your partner has shed light on how sharing space can increase conflict and lead to breakdowns in communication. The realities of working from home such as stress from parenting, home-schooling, and inadequate space, is unchartered territory for so many. For instance, Jenna, 45, and Trevor, 48, both feel overwhelmed and expressed their frustrations during a recent counseling session.
Jenna put it like this “Trevor takes up a lot of space in our home because he has a lot of hobbies and works on-line for an insurance company. Even before we were quarantined, we’d get on each other’s nerves sometimes. Lately, it’s an ongoing struggle to carve out space to teach college from home to satisfy the demands of my department chair, and to take good care of our two kids.”
Trevor responds, “I wish we knew how long the Coronavirus was going to last. I admit that I have a short fuse and tend to focus on the little things that bother me too much.”
How Can You Improve the Quality of Time at Home Together Due to Coronavirus?
As you adapt to these unprecedented conditions, you and your partner will benefit by keeping a healthy perspective and turning a potential negative into a positive by finding the silver lining in the physical and emotional closeness demanded by the coronavirus pandemic.
The hectic lifestyle that defined many marriages before coronavirus often contributed to couples suffering from a lack of physical and emotional intimacy. We now have the opportunity to slow down, center ourselves, and reconnect with our partners in a completely new way.
While many of the activities and small pleasures of life in isolation may seem trivial, you will surely find it rewarding to get back to the basics and develop habits that revolve around couple and family bonding and togetherness. In these uncertain times, we can all take a deep breath and bring intention and invention to family fun. These four simple suggestions below will go a long way toward fostering companionship among married couples and families, and remind us that we’re all in this together.
(1) The Things Undone
We all have a “to-do” list a mile long. And so many of those things, from reorganizing a closet to replanting that flowers that can’t seem to flourish in the garden, are now possible. We have more time at home than ever, and couples will gain a sense of satisfaction and productivity in a climate that increasingly sees people out of work and feeling adrift.
(2) The House is a Home
It’s often difficult for married couples to carve out time together or with their families to indulge in the things to inspire, amuse and entertain us. During this period where we all must “stay at home,” couples can work to turn those TV dinners into tantalizing tables with home-cooked meals. Family game nights can rekindle fun rivalries and nostalgic memories. Movies and music can be enjoyed together, allowing us to experience joy and escapism while enjoying a classic film or superb song. The simple act of watching a film or listening to music can strengthen our family bond.
(3) A Healthy Mind and Body
Even though your gym may be closed due to the coronavirus, couples can create an exercise routine that supports a sound body and mind. By working together to walk, hike or bike, partners can play a part in improving their physical fitness as a team. Plus, an added bonus is that couples who work out together experience a boost in their sex life!
(4) Get to Know Each Other Better
Over time, many couples drift apart. Research by Dr. John Gottman shows that couples who have happy marriages have a sense of shared meaning and closeness based on becoming intimately involved in each other’s worlds. In fact, creating shared meaning is the highest level of Dr. John and Julie Gottman’s Sound Relationship House, which is a model on how to have a healthy relationship in which a couple can intentionally create a sense of purpose together. Use the time at home together to ask your partner questions such as “where do you see yourself working in 5-10 years,” or “what’s your ideal vacation?” You might be surprised at your partner’s responses.
Even in the best of times, harmony and fulfillment in a relationship is difficult to attain. However, fostering a safe space where you and your partner (and family members) can turn to each other for support, is key to helping you all weather the storm. And with “stay at home” and or quarantine orders across the globe creating a new and precarious dynamic for households, take comfort in knowing that you’re not in this alone, and that ultimately, you’re stronger together.
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