Inoculating your marriage against COVID-19

You have spent the past 10 weeks together. Working from home, exercising from home, and home schooling. Normal routines like going to the gym or meeting up with friends does not happen and the pressure of losing your work, getting sick and everything else going on in the world is starting to affect couples. There is a whole new category for couples counseling we refer to as COVID Couple Counseling.

If you feel as though you are at the end of your limit, you’re not alone. Healthy relationships thrive on time alone. Research has shown that times of crisis can highlight strengths in relationships, but this isn’t a typical crisis. It seems to go and on and with each passing day there are things couples grieve that they cannot do. This grief exposes vulnerabilities already in place in the relationship and little annoyances like hearing the same story over and over, day after day during lockdown makes you feel trapped and stressed.

We are never at our best when we’re overwhelmed with stress, so a much better idea is to sit down with your partner and get on the same page of an action plan. Taking these actions can help bring new life to your relationship and minimize frustration and stress.

1. Invest your time in an online marriage retreat. The most important investment is your marriage. Marriage therapists and churches offer numerous ways to join a weekend retreat that will enhance your relationship and your life.

2. Practice the 80/20 rule. When couples feel trapped, they begin a bad habit of nit-picking on each other. Complaining about each other’s small annoyances is common in everyday life, but when it becomes excessive it destroys connection and isolates partners. Compliment and appreciate your partner 80% and keep the nitpicking under 20% of the time.

3. Enjoy physical intimacy. Romantic connection is more helpful then ever during quarantine. Holding hands, hugging, and touching each other more helps couples feel connected and close.

4. Design a space just for you. Space is extremely important between couples to keep the emotional tension balanced and close. The size of the space is not as important as that you have a place to retreat that is yours alone.

5. Stay emotionally engaged with family and friends. Families and friends are important for strengthening your relationship. Have couples video chats, exercise outside in a safe place with your friends, or meet up at a park for a couple’s night out. Limit the number and provide safe spacing.

Marriages are challenged during COVID-19 but that doesn’t mean it’s negative. It means you are learning new ways to help your relationship survive the situation so it can thrive and be better than it was pre-COVID-19. Do not give up on your partner, and when you hit a bump in the road, recognize it as a bump (lesson) and not a catastrophe (reason to give up).