Three months ago, phrases like self-isolation and social distancing weren’t even on most of our radars. But now, the nation knows them all too well and the majority are gearing up for extended time at home – well beyond what many would typically have. For those who are married, we also won’t be used to spending this amount of time with our spouses. Current measures mean no social gatherings, so staying at home is a must, aside from exercise as long as it’s away from others. So, contact with friends and extended family is no longer an option, aside from video calls, and we’ll now likely spend a lot more time with only one other adult … our spouse.
As this new territory is unmarked and we’ve had no practice or run-through, this season may mark the biggest global stress test our marriages have ever seen. However, here at Care for the Family, we believe marriages can actually come out the other side of this stronger. Yes, there will be huge challenges but if we’re proactive, we can stay the course.
Here are a few suggestions for you and your spouse …
Routine and boundaries
Having a daily routine and putting strict boundaries in place will be especially helpful if one or both of you are working from home. Getting up at the same time and making the effort to get dressed will help work really feel like work, while a quick walk around the block could replace your daily commute and get your mind ready for a day at the desk – or the kitchen table!
You may find it difficult getting used to operating from the kitchen or makeshift office, without your colleagues around you, but it’ll just take a little adjusting. To keep distractions to a minimum, try working in separate rooms – if possible – and agree shared break and lunch times. This way you can look forward to time together, rather than getting annoyed with each other while working in such close quarters.
And when work is over, the office becomes home again. Having defined working hours will help keep work time and home time separate. You can find more ideas for routines here.
Make space for quality time together
While you may not be able to visit your favourite restaurant or cinema, there are countless ways you can spend quality time together, though it may mean getting a little more creative. You could have some fun cooking a new meal together from scratch – and if you’re not a great cook, it could be something to laugh about later. Have a look in your cupboards or loft and see if you can find any old board games lurking around and start a tournament – you may discover a new hobby!
Also, try walking or exercising together – keeping appropriate distances from others if you’re outside, of course. And whoever said playing hide-and-seek at home was only for kids? You could even learn a new language together or finally get round to decorating that room you’ve been putting off for ages. Quality time together will look different to what we’re used to, but it’s a great chance to make some awesome memories.
Listen to each other
Each of us is different and we will all respond differently to what’s going on. Some of us want to put a plan in place, while others may feel especially worried and concerned. Some may try find the positives in the situation, while others focus on the risks.
In these times, taking the time to listen to each other is so very important – giving your partner your undivided attention gives value to their thoughts and feelings. We may not have the answers to each other’s questions and we may not share their fears, but through listening, we let them know that we’re there for them. Keeping those lines of communication open will make sure we’re connecting emotionally with each other, not just physically.
Keep in touch with friends and family
When it’s just the two of you, we run the risk of placing all our feelings, needs and fears on to our spouse. Keeping in touch with those we love will help ease some of that pressure and give us some extra support.
We may not be able to visit family or spend time with friends, but for many of us, technology can bridge that gap. You could gather a group of friends or family on a video conferencing app, call your elderly relatives or send a handwritten card to a friend. Now is the time to widen our community, not shrink it.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, let us be kind and patient with one another. We will all have questions and uncertainties and we’ll all feel worried at times. None of us expected to find ourselves in this current situation, but it won’t be forever. Let’s be quick to apologise and quick to forgive.
Let’s not forget we’re in this together.
REFLECT & CONNECT
Take a few moments to think about the following questions and then make some time to talk and share your answers as a couple.
- How do I feel about the ‘routine’ in the house? Is there anything that I’d like to change?
- What could we do to have some fun together? (For some fun and really different ideas check out this blog).
- What could I do to be a better listener?
- Who are the people I care about, close family, friends and neighbours? Is there anyone I want or need to be in contact with?
We could all learn to be better listeners. The Toucan Communication Module helps you and your partner explore good communication habits, identify your own bad habits and develop deeper communication.