If things are wonderful between you and your spouse, lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic may seem great; you’ve got more time together. But this season can stress even the best relationships, and lockdown with your spouse may feel more like a prison camp than a marriage retreat. So how can you deal with your marriage under lockdown?
There is already evidence that domestic violence, addictive behaviors, and abuse have increased where marked restrictions to curtail the present pandemic have been put in place. Such stress does not make bad behavior begin; it simply provides an environment where unhealthy ways of coping have a greater chance to show themselves.
If evil, toxic, truly destructive behavior is happening, you will need to seek help right away. But if you and your spouse are basically people of good will, this time can still be very difficult.
So here are some healthier ways to handle your marriage under lockdown.
Focus on Your Attitude and Behavior
Hopefully you’ve learned by now that trying to change your spouse doesn’t work. Focus on what you do have some control over, and that’s your own thoughts, attitudes, and actions. Take some intentional time each day and each week to see that your own soul is nourished. That may look a bit different during this season than at other times, but you need that even more in order to bring your best self to your marriage.
Ask yourself, What’s it Like to be Married to Me? You have more ability to choose your attitude than you probably realize. Decide that you will focus on healthy ways of managing stress and anxiety. Remember that your attitude has a big impact on your spouse. Don’t expect your spouse to meet all your needs; that’s between you and God.
Offer Grace and Patience – to both Yourself and Your Spouse
Stress often brings out the prickly parts of people – of both you and your spouse. Give yourself and each other some grace. Let small things remain small. (That does not mean tolerating bad behavior such as substance abuse, porn, or violence.)
Realize that your feelings are more vulnerable than normal when under stress. If you’ve never done so before, learn to apologize when you lash out or cause your spouse pain. Help each other be the best version of yourselves that you can be.
This stressful times means that both of you will likely trigger defensiveness or old wounds in each other. God can actually use this time to bring healing to both of you, and to your marriage, if you intentionally let Him.
Choose to Communicate
Your communication may have deteriorated into a miserable marriage détente, based on either giving the silent treatment or yelling and fighting. This might be an important time to learn some new communication skills.
See yourself as creating a safe invitation for your spouse to come closer. Rather than waiting for him/her to do so, you make the first move in inviting connection. Imagine the kind of setting or emotional climate your spouse would find most appealing, and work to make that happen. Husbands, it’s OK to be a bit vulnerable. Wives, if you need him to listen instead of fix things, let him know that.
Ask questions. While on lockdown Nadine invited her husband to such a conversation, and they went through all 50 date night questions in one sitting! She wrote, “Wow! We could communicate for the first time. It was a breakthrough in our marriage.”
When we asked, communication was the number 1 issue couples wanted to be better in their relationship. And we have some resources to help.
- Our FREE Communication Personality Assessment. This brief on-line quiz will help you understand your own communication style, and provide some personalized recommendations on how to use your style more effectively in your marriage.
- Dr Carol’s Guide to Healthy Communication in Marriage. Available in either ebook or paperback, this guide provides practical tools to set you up for communication success. And it comes with worksheets to help you talk about hot topics such as sex, money, and blended family issues.
Your marriage under lockdown can deteriorate even further. Or you can use this time to foster an even deeper connection with your spouse.
Make sure that as far as it depends on you, by your words and actions you vote for the deeper connection.
Your Turn: How is your marriage under lockdown doing? Is the tension worse? Which of these strategies are you going to try in turning things around for good? Leave a comment below.
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- Your marriage under lockdown can bring out both the best and the worst in both of you. Make the choice that for your marriage, it will be the best. Tweet that.
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