“Marriage is like a bank account…”
COVID-19 Anxiety at Home
We are living in uncertain times. There is no doubt that the anxiety caused by the current pandemic crisis spills over into our personal relationships. If you are coupled and living together, or married, you absolutely have noticed our mutual frustration tolerance running low. You may have even experienced short cathartic bursts of exasperation. Yes?
The Setup – You Are BOTH Working From Home
During the first week of March, the global workforce made several sudden shifts in how we deliver services. For those not considered essential workers (e.g., ER Nurses, Crisis Case Managers, etc.), companies were forced to implement strategies designed to decrease exposure. That meant that many individuals started working from home in a system ill prepared for such a drastic shift. This was facilitated by a swift uptake in technology such as Zoom and Slack for client and corporate team communications.
For the single Millennial, no greater gift could have come from the sky. For those living with partners, a major challenge was about to be realized.
“Oh MY GOD, I never get a break…”
Regardless of how solid your partnership, living and working in the same space as a couple is a massive challenge. Alone time becomes increasingly impossible, especially in areas with strong social distancing rules. Imagine living in a highly restricted area with rules only allowing you to leave your house once a day!
Remember those idiosyncratic behaviours that feel like fingernails on a chalk board? — If you forgot, you are about to be reminded!
Ringing any bells? Give it a moment….Now you do…
Building Connection From the Ground Up
We suggest four strategies for staying in love while working from home with your partner during the COVID-19 crisis. Having a firm commitment to a positive outcome during uncertain times, builds on your marriage now and into the future:
- Marriage Is Like a Bank Account: This concept comes from the field of behavioural psychology. Successful relationships require you to add to your, “bank account” through kind gestures and positive language. It is easy to get overdrawn when using unproductive speech and only focusing on your own experience over your partners.
- Adhere To Ritual: A ritual is more powerful than a routine in that routines become quickly automated. Find rituals that you both look forward to performing together. This might be a Friday night movie binge or the sharing of a special bottle of wine once a week.
- Remember Why You Fell In Love: Over the years, it is easy to get lost in the day-to-day. The things that frustrate you become magnified. The most powerful exercise performed individually, is to sit down and write out why you fell in love in the first place. The beginning of your coupling was an exhilarating time for both of you. Hold onto that experience.
- Revisit Communication For Couples 101: Remember those basic communications skills you learned back in the day? You know, reflective listening, paraphrasing, emotional reflection…right? Well, when things get tough, this is a good time to go back and re-master those relationship saving skills.