More than likely, you’re probably like the majority of the world who didn’t expect something like this to occur; welcome to being one of us. COVID-19 has had major effects on peoples’ lives. Here’s how to make the best of this Pandemic, not just surviving, but thriving!
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About the Author
Jacob Wilhelm, MA, PLPC is a professional counselor specializing in Marriage Counseling, Family Therapy, and Anxiety & Depression in Men. You can schedule an appointment with Jacob for online counseling or in-person at our Columbia, Missouri counseling center.
What Do You Mean Quarantine?
I know what you’re thinking, “How did I not expect a pandemic?”. More than likely, you’re probably like the majority of the world who didn’t expect something like this to occur; welcome to being one of us. Satire aside, COVID-19 has had major effects and I don’t want to minimize the impact it has on peoples’ lives.
Joblessness, economic and financial distress, contracting the virus, quarantine, anxiety, death, and list goes on. This is an unprecedented time full of uncertainty; normal routine has been raked; the normal drill is now quelled. A lot of this is out of your hands, and the lack of control can create anxiety, stress, anger, fear, sadness, and can affect your relationships. This article will take a look at relationships under quarantine, we will look at some recent data and also some tips on navigating through this time.
A recent survey was administered through a wedding planning phone app, The Knot, surveying 1,200 engaged and married couples. Out of those 1,200 couples 66% of engaged users say their relationship has strengthened, and 56% of married couples feel similarly, this overall is good news. 75% of those surveyed are spending more time with their spouse, or spouse to be, and 40% of married respondents have noticed an increase in arguments since quarantine. 29% of married couples report being satisfied with the amount of quality time with their spouse (23% pre-COVID-19) and 18% of the couples reported satisfaction with the communication with their partner. The survey describes some positives and some areas of growth, and this begs the question: how do we strengthen the marriage during quarantine?
The New Normal
Before we think about what can be helpful let’s take a moment to acknowledge this is a “new” normal. The “old normal” way of coping with stress and anxiety may not be even options anymore. This is a loss, on top of any other loss that may have been experienced; the loss of being able to cope in proven methods can feel deleterious, it could feel like a slight loss of personal identity.
Walking outside, outdoor photography, going to the beach, movies, shopping, eating out, exercising, going to music venues, and sporting events have all been affected by the pandemic. This can make it harder to have alone time, and more difficult to de-stress. For the “new” normal think of ways you can prioritize your mental health. Some possible options could be setting aside time for yourself, calling a friend, disconnecting from work, or taking a walk outside if you can. One way to set aside time for yourself is to communicate a time with your spouse to have alone time. Afterall, everybody needs some quiet alone time. For example, wearing headphones or wearing a particular hat as a visible cue that you’re having alone time. Also, think of ways that you can connect with your spouse. Think of something creative, and bonding. For example, plan a meal together or do your own little Iron Chef competition, game night, movie night or play puzzles.
Not only is taking personal time and finding times to do fun things with your spouse important but so is taking time to communicate. Being trapped in a few walls can be tough and stressful, making communication more difficult.
Tips to survive and thrive during quarantine:
- Acknowledge the losses, allow yourself to be heard and allow yourself to listen without the gut reaction to try and fix it.
- Create your own “mini-culture”. Research shows that strong and meaningful rituals, that build a “mini-culture” build strong marriages. This brings a sense of unity, predictability, comfort and can reduce uncertainty and stress. These rituals could be emotional, physical, or spiritual; it might be creating a specific game night, or praying together.
- If something is bothering you, take some time to figure out what it is, what your emotions are, and convey your heart to your spouse. Your spouse at this point probably hasn’t acquired mind reading capabilities.
- Communicate chores and responsibilities
- Create a schedule that includes work hours, teaching the children, spending time with each other and even schedule out times for sex. Dr. Michael Gurian, states that sex produces oxytocin, which is aka the “bonding” chemical. Oxytocin creates more bonding and decreases stress.
- Give each other space, let your spouse have their reactions, listen to the spouse open-heartedly, and cultivate compassion.
- Show you value and appreciate each other.
- Lastly, allow yourself to ask for help.
You can ask for help at any time. Going through this can be hard, but it doesn’t mean you have to go through it alone. Having a space to feel heard, and to listen can relieve relational tension and can create stronger marriages.
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