Wednesday | 06 May | 2020
By Marli Naidoo
A well-known and important factor in the success of a marriage is the space couples grant one another, and the times they spend apart and long for one another. During the current lockdown period it’s not so easy to provide one another with this necessary space, and your marriage can start experiencing difficulties. The opposite is also true. In spite of everyone being in the same home all day, some couples live separate lives. In families where the income has diminished due to the lockdown, financial stress can totally get the upper hand unless everyone in the home isn’t prepared for it. However, there are ways in which to protect your marriage bond during these uncertain times.
Devote one evening per week to each other by simply going on a stay-at-home date. Put the children to bed early, or banish them to their rooms for the evening. Prepare a meal together, watch a romantic movie together, or play board games. Use the time to enjoy each other’s company.
Create structure. This is a simple way of establishing a feeling of normalcy. Compile a flexible schedule together, and make sure that you eat together at least once per day. Respect each other’s boundaries. If your partner needs time daily to read a book in silence, don’t expect him to replace it with time with you. Let reading time then make out part of the schedule. If one or both of you work from home, respect each other’s working hours.
Don’t increase the financial pressure by making unnecessary purchases. Discuss your budget and what you can afford during this time. You are not in conflict with each other, but a team who, by standing together, can overcome the problems. Think about creative ways to generate an extra income.
Don’t spend the entire day indoors. Make time to get some fresh air and even exercise. It will improve the overall mood of you both.
When your partner reaches out to you in a subtle manner, you could either ignore it or set aside what you are busy doing and use the moment to make a connection. There are simple ways in which your partner can reach out to you: He touches you when you walk by; he may ask how your work is going; he tells you about something he’s read; he mentions how he feels about something; he asks you how your parents are. The key is not to miss these moments, but to put down your phone, turn to your partner, and for a second connect with each other.
Encourage your partner to show emotion and to talk about how she feels. If your partner opens up to you, it is your task to meet her trust with empathy, even if her emotions might catch you unawares or make you feel uncomfortable.
The pandemic has almost forced couples to be hyper-involved with each other at the cost of other relationships. It places tremendous pressure on a relationship to expect one person to provide in all your emotional needs. Friendships, extended family relationships and time alone are the things that fill your life with novelty, insights, humour, pleasure, reflection, connecting, support and diverse conversation topics. Space can be very healthy for your relationship and even your intimacy. Spend time daily in different parts of the home.
Connect with friends and family members regularly. If necessary, you can speak to a therapist online. Be aware of the fact that your partner definitely cannot give you all the support you need, and that it would be unfair to expect it from him or her.
Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/za/blog/joyful-parenting/202004/5-quick-ways-protect-your-marriage-during-coronavirus
Thriving Minds Psychology: https://www.thrivingmindpsychology.com/blog/couples-in-lockdown
Billy Penn: https://billypenn.com/2020/04/03/how-not-to-hate-your-partner-7-tips-to-help-your-relationship-survive-phillys-lockdown/
* All information was correct at the time of publication.