In the next installment of the ‘Things I Wish I Knew’ series, I’m going to give my (unsolicited) ideas for keeping your marriage thriving during this very difficult time of quarantine. Going from seeing each other five hours a day to seeing each other 18 hours a day is hard enough, let alone adding in the extra stress of children and major job changes. For us, my husband is now working at home and my job has been essentially cut off all together, which makes me a new SAHM. Those are some big life changes! Arguments are bound to happen, anxiety attacks are bound to happen, sadness is bound to happen. From what I’ve learned (and continue to learn) over the past month, it’s all about how you choose to cope with these changes. I have five ideas that have worked for us to keep our marriage on the right happy track without derailing to a track of resentment. These are geared towards couples with kids, but can also be adapted to any couples.
In order to be your best for your partner and your family, you have to first invest the time in yourself. This has always been true, but it’s more important now than ever. Quarantine will suck the life right out of you if you don’t take the time to refuel. Our method? We make a schedule first thing in the morning every day. We each tell each other what we’d like to get accomplished that day, which always includes something just for ourselves – no kids allowed. Then we find the time to make it happen. Here are some ideas to help you refuel during your alone time:
- Take a drive and listen to an audiobook
- Take a bath/do a face mask/ paint your nails
- Take a nap
- Read a book
- Watch a trashy TV show
- Work on a house project you’ve been wanting to accomplish
- Go for a walk
- Bake something – and eat it
- Simply sit and scroll Instagram/TikTok (my new obsession)
- Online shop
You knew there would be a catch to that first one right? If you are going to expect your partner to take the kids or take over the responsibilities during your alone time, you have to also return the favor. The only way the alone time is going to be refueling is if you are both on board and both equally contributing. We both get our alone time every day – no strings attached and no exceptions. This may be easier right now given that we are mostly all working from home and our schedules may be a bit more flexible. Last week my husband surprised me and took a half day at work to let me do whatever I wanted for half the day. Amazing right!? I’m a lucky gal! This may not be feasible for all, but no matter when you schedule in your alone time, make sure you get it!
Move Your Body
Before this quarantine period, I made time for myself to workout approximately never. It was low on my priority list given that work took up so much time and I wanted to be with my family for the precious leftover hours I had. I’m also not exactly the type of person that can wake up at 4:30 to get a workout in before work. Now that I’ve got all the time in the world, I’ve found that working out has helped raise my spirits more than anything. That is why I use at least part of my alone time to workout most days. Not everyone is a fitness buff like me (kidding, I am wildly out of shape), so moving your body will look different for everyone. I’ve been loving the Peloton app (free for 90 days), but I’ve also found that going for a long walk by yourself in the sunshine can be just as mood lifting.
Talk to Other People
Another key coping strategy to keeping your sanity and patience with your partner. For me, after being with the kids all day, the only thing I want at the end of the day is silence. For my husband, after sitting in the basement by himself working, the only thing he wants at the end of the day is to talk about everything. This is just one reason why it’s so important to keep in touch with other people in your lives and have someone besides your partner to spill your day to or vent your stresses to. There are also so many fun options for virtual social interaction out there right now! Zoom happy hours, Quiplash online, Marco Polo, virtual beer pong are just a few we have tried.
Work on Communication
There is no time like the ever looming present to work on the number one, most important relationship skill – communication. Speaking for myself, I am one of those people that hold their feelings in and let them get the best of me until my husband drags them out. That’s why I am taking this time to make sure I say what’s on my mind and especially if anything is bothering me. Difficult? Majorly. But it’s been very rewarding so far and has definitely strengthened our marriage and made this time of ultimate togetherness much more pleasant. A few ways we have been able to communicate better:
- Date night – yes even during quarantine! We put on a movie for the kids, ordered sushi in for us, and had date night in the other room. Away from the kids, talking about adult things.
- Starting a new TV series together – yet another thing we can talk about that brings us together and doesn’t involve the kids. Plus something we never had time for before.
- Practicing more of that selflessness – even though I don’t feel like rehashing the day once it’s over; if my husband does, then I do too!
- Making sure my frustrations are valid and not just my anxieties about quarantine being projected onto him. Guilty as charged.
I hope some of these ideas help you (and your sanity)! Please leave any other ideas you have in the comments for me – I could use any help I can get! I’m not the best with change and I truly wish I knew these tips back when quarantine started. Although, I know these lessons will certainly make me and my relationship better when it’s all over. Happy weekend friends!