I’ve been reading your column for awhile and need advice about how to make it through the pandemic without getting a divorce. The problem is that my husband and I are not good at dealing with stress and we’ve really reached out boiling point with home-schooling our three kids, unpaid bills, waiting for the stimulus check, and trying to work at home. Also, I need to tell you that one of our kids has special needs and he does better when he has structure and his favorite teacher to help him.
Perhaps I should mention that we’ve talked about divorce and already tried counseling. It didn’t work because we have high co-pays and it’s hard to get babysitters to watch 3 kids – especially when one has special needs. Our counselor also told us we were a bad match because I like to process things and my husband, Charles, tends to keep his emotions inside. In other words we are complete opposites. But all is not lost because we still have some romance and when the kids are in bed and we’re not too angry we cuddle on the couch and sometimes make love.
Please tell me how to save my marriage. I read that divorce rates are up because of Coronavirus and we don’t want to become a statistic.
Spending more time at home with your partner seems to have shed light on how sharing space can increase conflict and lead to breakdowns in your communication. The realities of working from home such as stress from parenting, home-schooling, and inadequate space, is unchartered territory for so many. However, if you are patient and try to reframe this time as an opportunity to get to know each other better, you may be surprised that you might actually grow closer and strengthen your bond as a couple.
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 staying at home, you may 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 six simple suggestions below will go a long way toward fostering love and remind you that we’re all in this together.
Exercise Together: 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!
Tune in to Each Other: 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. 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. Be sure to listen attentively when they speak and ask them to clarify anything you’re unsure of so you can respond appropriately.
Include self-care activities such as yoga, reading, taking an on-line class, and talking to a friend (even if it’s quick phone call or virtual chat) can renew your perspective.
Go outside every day. Whether it’s gardening, walking your dog, or going for a walk, make sure to breathe in fresh air and count up five positive things that you’ve done every day (such as walking).
Make the small moments of connection count with your partner. According to The Penn State University research team actions speak louder than words when it comes to expressing love. “We found that behavioral actions—rather than purely verbal expressions—triggered more consensus as indicators of love.” For instance, leaving a love note or making coffee for your partner may be more important than giving him or her a compliment.
Get support. If you’re questioning your commitment to each other and you’re unable to repair and get back on track after arguments, it’s a good idea to seek professional counseling. Most therapists will provide Telehealth therapy to support individuals and couples during the pandemic. Couples counseling can help you unpack your stress and focus your energies of your sense of unity and belonginess if you’re receptive.
Even in the best of times, happiness and fulfillment in a relationship is difficult to sustain. 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.
Twitter, Facebook, and, movingpastdivorce.com. Terry’s award winning book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship is available on her website. Her new book The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around was published by Sounds True on February 18, 2020.
I’d love to hear from you and answer your questions about relationships, divorce, marriage, and remarriage. Please ask a question here. Thanks! Terry