“It is not lack of love, but lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages ”Friedrich Niezsche
The worsening number of COVID cases in California makes me so paranoid. I told Dave to stop going to work. I worry so much about him. He says he can’t. They have to make sure that their business survives. He said he takes the necessary social distancing and hand washing precautions. I couldn’t stop nagging (which I usually don’t) and he lost his temper (Dave is usually very mild mannered).
Dave and I have had so few arguments I can count them in one hand. It was the worst argument we’ve had in three years of our marriage.
The quarantine can unmask different faces of marriage. Unfortunately, it will reveal or worst- magnify the cracks in some. There are ways our marriages can thrive or at least survive.
QUARANTINE RULES FOR MARRIAGE
- Realize that everyone needs time to adjust. Immediately, I told myself that this is a unique situation. Dave and I are learning how to respond. If words were said, I knew it was just the stress. We chose to give each other the benefit of the doubt. We were both getting overwhelmed
- Remember you’re individuals in a team. Accept that people process information and crisis differently. I am focused on the risk while Dave copes by going on with his normal life. I am a planner while Dave would fly, by the seat of his pants. Don’t polarize and insist on a singular way to handle things. In the face of conflict, remind yourself that you both can be right-potentially.
- Exercise more kindness and tolerance. The home can feel claustrophobic and crowded. Be mindful of other people’s space. Respect people’s rest time. We are all operating on crazy hours and it has affected our sleeping habits. Practice patience and manners.
- Be grateful for your spouse. There are a lot of people going through this alone.
- Make home a safe and healing environment. Make sure home is clean and pleasant to the senses. When we are home 24/7 , there is nothing worse than to be cooped up in a cluttered and filthy place. With time on our hand, this is the best opportunity to fix our homes.
- Set boundaries. Still have alone time. I let Dave go to bed ahead so I can write, watch Netflix or catch up with my sons in Manila .
- Prioritize self care. When Dave is binge-ing on his B rated movies, I take long showers and do all my self care rituals. When we can’t go for walks, I do YouTube kickboxing.When we feel good, we are kinder and better partners.
- Make time for other people. Call your friends. This can be our support group to vent. Our partner can get tired of our complaints.
- If you are in a difficult marriage with long standing hurts, call a cease fire. Find a way to agree, even temporarily. This is not the time to talk about long term issues. This will just add to the pressure and stress.
Life, as we know it, has changed. Couples are trying to coexist in small spaces. I cannot imagine being quarantined with a difficult spouse. This is, especially, challenging for already strained relationships. With nowhere to go, couples cannot run away from issues plaguing their marriages. Being in quarantine can be a litmus test.
They say that, the best test if you should marry a person is to go on a cross country drive. Being cooped together in a car, for days, especially if you’re traveling through Arizona or Texas with miles and miles of nothing but sand, can test a couple’s tolerance. Dave and I had done countless long drives. I think we can survive this one.