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My husband shared a meme with me yesterday which said, “With no sports on TV due to March Sadness. I got to know my wife. She’s actually really nice. Works in the medical field.”
We laughed. For a minute.
And then I thought… it’s a little too true for comfort.
If you’re reading this article on the day we posted it… then you are probably stuck at home, with the rest of America (or half of the world) with your husband or your wife. Quarantined.
And even if your marriage is fine, being stuck in a house with your spouse and maybe even your kids for the never-ending foreseeable future can be overwhelming… (and stressful!)
And if your marriage is rocky, or in a CRISIS, then being stuck at home with your spouse is likely to bring a lot of tension to the surface.
If you’re reading this article sometime in the future… then you likely remember when all of us were stuck at home. Quarantined… and the information will STILL APPLY… even for a snowstorm, terrible weather, getting over surgery, or anything else that may keep you stuck at home.
Either way, we want to share 3 things to help make your marriage stronger, even when you’re stuck at home.
Tip #1 Be your spouse’s FRIEND. NOT your spouse’s FIXER.
This is not the time to try and fix all of your marriage problems. You may think, “Now that my spouse is a captive audience, it’s the perfect time to hash out all of our problems and work out our differences!”
Life is already stressful and you, your spouse, your family are trying to readjust to what “normal” looks like for the next several weeks.
Here’s an example…
Let’s say that my husband and I have grown apart and don’t talk anymore. The intimacy and passion are completely gone. I know he’s been unhappy in our marriage… he’s been staying out more at night, going out with friends, and coming home at 3 am.
But now, he’s at home more. He isn’t going into work because he was told employees need to work from home. So we went from hardly seeing each other… to being around each other ALL DAY.
And I decide this is a great opportunity to get him to talk.
So on the first day, I walk into his room while he’s trying to work. And I begin to hover. I want to be around and present, thinking, “He will more than likely talk to me when he gets bored…” but… he doesn’t.
The next few days, when I realize that isn’t working and he seems even more annoyed, I actually try to talk to him. So I still hover. And in my mind, I’ve had a complete conversation with myself as to why what I’m doing “makes sense.”
I tell myself, “I’m being so kind by offering him water and coffee and food.” And, “I’m really doing my part by asking him how things are going. Look how nice I am being to him!”
Meanwhile… he’s thinking, “I’m trying to focus on my work. Why does she keep trying to interrupt?”
So when I try and talk to him, ask him what he’s up to, how things are going, when he’ll be taking a lunch break, etc. and he pushes me off, it’s because this is not normal for him AND because he’s trying to focus on other things…
But, I’m not thinking about that. I get mad. It escalates what I’m thinking and what I’m feeling…
Finally, I start thinking, “He CAN’T treat me this way!! What a JERK! Does he not see everything I’m doing for him?!”
So then next time we run into each other in the kitchen, I’m slamming cabinets and avoiding him… being passive aggressive. I’ve had a whole fight with him in my head (which he was completely unaware of). He was just trying to work.
Taking matters into my own hands and trying to fix things only created more problems. Remember, humans resist change, even good change at first because we are used to a predictable pattern of behavior.
So don’t “all of a sudden” hover around your spouse and try to get them to “open up their heart” to you just because you are together now more than you were before. Rather, let it happen SLOWLY, naturally.
Start with friendship; begin by being friends.
“But this is my spouse!” you’re thinking, “Not my friend!” Yes, but remember that you and your spouse started out as friends.
What made them fall in love with you the first time is what will bring them to fall deeper in love with you (or more in love with you) now.
Honor their space. Honor the stress they are having to manage right now. And then simply be available for conversation and encouragement when the time arises.
Maybe at the end of the day, when they emerge from work or whatever it may be, you simply ask them how their day was. Don’t bring up relationship problems… (I’ll explain more about that in a minute.) Just be a friend. Don’t try to fix them. Don’t try to fix the situation. If the opportunity arises to talk about issues that have happened in your relationship, take advantage of it. But please don’t try to “create” the opportunity.
Tip #2 The more stressful life is, the less stressful your home or your relationship needs to be.
If we consider the psychology of the mind, and the way our bodies are made, we can learn a LOT about stress. We know that when our minds perceive a stressor, our autonomic nervous system “raises its flags” and prepares our bodies to fight, flight, or freeze. The more stress we have in our lives, the more our body suspects everything around us to be a stressor.
So if work is stressful, and you come home to a stressful household… with a bickering spouse or loud kids… then your body perceives that as just one more stressor that it needs to fight, flight, or freeze.
Life is stressful. Don’t bring even more stress into that by trying to force your spouse to talk about issues when your relationship isn’t ready for that.
So are you supposed to just let issues continue to happen? No.
Wondering WHEN you can talk about issues with your spouse? We can help with that. We have online toolkits, courses, and even personal coaching that you can do with a certified Marriage Helper coach to guide you on the best ways to address issues with your spouse- in a way that is EFFECTIVE and not destructive.
Tip #3 Work On Yourself Right Now.
It’s easy to get stuck in a mental cycle where you focus on everything you wish your spouse would change (or do differently). And just like you can’t control what’s going on in the world right now… you also can’t control your spouse.
You can only control you! Your actions and your reactions… and even your thoughts.
It takes practice. It takes work. But it’s worth it. That process BEGINS with attraction- PIES attraction- in the physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual areas of your life.
You can work on and control these 4 areas to become the best “you” that you can be. We have a PIES bootcamp to get you kick started on working on yourself – yes, even when you’re stuck at home. (That’s the BEST time to focus on your PIES!)
You can get it right now for only $7 here: https://marriagehelper.com/pies-bootcamp/
Remember, use this time to make your marriage STRONGER not more stressful.
In this time of uncertainty, we want to help you be the BEST version of yourself. Check out what we call the “PIES” by clicking here!