Ways to Improve the Disconnect with your Spouse during Shelter in Place
We are living in an unprecedented time - the global pandemic has forced us all to stay home, only leaving if we are essential workers, to grocery shop or pick up prescriptions or to get our for a walk in our neighborhood. This shift has us stuck at home with our immediate family, which may include a spouse in which your relationship is already strained. This can be a blessing for many of us, but, for others it can be the straw that breaks the camel's back.
There are many relationships that cannot be fixed, and some even that should not be fixed. For those couples, this article will not help you. I will also say that if you are in a relationship that is in any way endangering you or your children, please contact the appropriate authorites, as there are options that can help you get out of your current situation safely.
For the others, who seem to be getting on each other's nerves, I would like to offer some ideas to help reconnect with your spouse instead of letting the frustration or little pet peeves affect you and drive a wedge, which could lead to divorce. China is reporting a rise in divorces, which could be due to shelter in place orders due to the Corona Virus. In addition, family law attorneys in the UK and US are anticipating the same.
Here are 10 suggestions to help you reconnect with your spouse:
Take a walk through the neighborhood - exercise has been scientically proven to improve mood, lower blood pressure and increase our serotonin levels. Using this time with your spouse to enjoy the walk together, can bring those feel good horomones into your relationship, plus it's a great time to talk and catch up.
Take time to connect each day outside of the day to day grind. We are all stuck at home, and it may feel like you are with each other all day and there is nothing else to say. Taking time to check in with no distractions at the end of each day can do wonders for your feelings of closeness. So put the devices down and turn off the news and talk!
Incorporate a gratitude practice, discuss three things each day that each of you are grateful for and share them with each other.
Make a list together of things you want to do together & separate once the shelter in place is over. Talk about what you miss the most and why, this is helpful in checking in with how they are doing emotionally without asking the question directly.
Continue to have date nights! Yes, we are stuck at home but make a nice dinner, open a bottle of wine or champagne, make a great dessert and put on some great music. Flirt a little, talk and enjoy each other's company.
Try and do something nice for your partner each and every day. It can be the smallest deed, like preparing their coffee or making their favorite breakfast. It really can be anything, helping them with a chore or task, or even just not giving them a hard time or reacting when you usually would to one of your pet peeves they seem to commit when you are at your most irritable.
Pull out photos of you and your spouse and reminisce. This will help to bring back memories, emotions and feelings of love and gratitude. Remember the fun you two had in the past and share stories from those times.
There are several relationship books out there that help couples navigate their troubles, read one of these together. Take turns reading and discussing the content, this can really help you understand your partner on a deeper level and help you tap into their perspective, which can be a challenge.
Try to go to bed at the same time most nights of the week. This is a really big deal for many couples, bedtime is a time to reconnect and create intimate moments (I am not talking about sex). I am talking about real connection, kiss each other goodnight, say I love you. It's a great time for your gratitude practice or to read with each other.
Lastly, take a little time each day to connect to yourself. Perhaps it's meditation, exercise, praying or reading alone outside, it is important to have a few moments each day to ourself. Time alone helps us check in with our feelings, builds mental strength and helps with creativity.
These are just some ideas, you can choose just one of these and see what happens or create your own ways to reconnect. The idea is to remember back to why and how you fell in love in the first place. We are all trying to navigate this shelter in place the best we can, so stress and feelings of uncertainty or completely normal, talking about it all can really help lessen the anxiety of the unknown. Turn towards your spouse instead of away.
Best wishes to all of you staying healthy and happy.