What do you think would happen if you were stuck around your spouse 24/7? If you’re like most people in the United States, you’re discovering the answer to that question.
Now up to more than 113,000 cases in the United States, the Coronavirus has forced the large majority of us to quarantine, at least to some extent. Most things are canceled. No sports. No school. Concerts have been nixed. More or less, everything has been put on hold.
Around the world, we are all staying home much more than we normally would in an effort to prevent the spread of this airborne killer.
And, that means we’re finding out firsthand how well we get along with our spouse, who is right by our side for nearly the entire day.
After all, it’s one thing to ask “Hi honey, how was your day today?” every evening when they get home, but it’s quite another to be around your spouse virtually all day.
How can we keep the quarantine from driving us, or our spouse, into considering the “Big D”?
How to avoid a divorce during the quarantine
Try these 5 things to avoid relationship struggles as you spend more time together with your spouse. The key is to keep an open mind and to spend quality time together as a family.
1: Maintain a consistent schedule
You probably hear this all the time, don’t you? Schedules. Always about schedules. Well, there’s a good reason for that. Schedules can help drive consistent and healthy activities day-to-day.
The more effective we are at managing our time with a schedule, the more productive we’ll be when working from home. Even if you’re not working right now, a schedule still provides the goals and motivation required to feel accomplished at the end of every day.
And, a schedule for both you and your spouse can also keep you out of each other’s hair – not to mention out of the “dog house” and off the couch at night.
For example, you are on the computer in the morning while your spouse is doing something else. In the afternoon, your spouse sits down at the computer and you focus on more physical activities (landscaping, maintenance, fixing broken stuff, etc).
Or, you homeschool your kids in the morning. After lunch, your spouse takes over while you get some much-needed emails written or phone calls made.
Whatever your schedule looks like, ensure that both of you are following some sort of structure from day to day. A schedule will keep you from wandering aimlessly and looking for things to do or bumping heads if you both need to use the office or home gym at the exact same time.
Schedules matter. If you’re both home all day, schedule matters even more.
2: Understand the quarantine is challenging for everyone
The quarantine might be stressful for you, but chances are it’s also stressful for the other person. Realizing that you’re both in this thing together will help to set your minds straight and prevent us from overreacting or assuming the other party is being annoying or unreasonable.
The fact is neither party wants to hurt, annoy or pester the other – at least, not intentionally. Both of you are trying your very best to get through the forced downtime together.
Thus, be supportive and understanding. Resist taking offense to the mannerisms or habits of the other person. Cut your spouse some slack because they are trying to power through the quarantine and avoid becoming a victim to Coronavirus, just like you.
3: Enforce a daily “happy hour”
One thing that my wife and I always do is a happy hour around 5pm. Every night. The idea here isn’t to just drink. In fact, consuming alcohol is entirely optional during our happy hours.
Instead, our happy hours are opportunities to get away from our computers, cell phones, the wicked 24-hour news cycle or any other distraction and just sit down together, usually with some sort of drink in hand, and talk. Talk about anything, like the weather or things we want to do tomorrow. It’s all fair game.
This type of “shooting the breeze” gives us a very informal and relaxing atmosphere to just chat about anything that is on our minds, and it’s a part of the day that we both always look forward to, and we prioritize it when the time comes.
Once the clock strikes 5pm, it’s happy hour time. I’m off the computer. My wife puts down whatever she’s doing. We both grab a drink and, if the weather is nice, go outside, find a comfortable seat, and chat away.
4: Go for walks every day
Walking has incredible benefits. Not only can walking improve your waistline, but it also lets your mind relax. Any kind of monotonous activity can provide the same benefit, but walking is something that both of you can do together.
And, you’ll begin to challenge each other in a healthy and productive way. If you’re new to walking longer distances, both you and your spouse will improve your health by walking further each week, pushing each other to continue improving your physical stamina.
Walking also tends to make us feel better. To relax us. To promote confidence. And when it comes to maintaining a healthy relationship with our spouse, feeling good, relaxed and confident can make all the difference in the world.
5: Try new “family time” things (like a board game night)
The quarantine might be a good opportunity to switch things up a bit.
Ordinarily, our spouse and kids have their own lives. We might eat together (and sometimes, not even that), but then we go our separate ways, seeing each other occasionally, in passing, as we walk to and from the bathroom, kitchen and television.
Use this opportunity to try something new – as a family. If you like to play board games, pick a night a week where you all get together and play. Or card games. Movies. Video games.
Whatever it happens to be for your family, the opportunity to come together, maybe over some fresh popcorn or dessert, can help families stay connected in a happy and light-hearted way.
Don’t have kids? That’s fine – try this anyway. Just like going for walks and enforcing happy hours, time with your spouse outside of doing chores or maintaining the household can have an amazing effect on your relationship and happiness.
Remember, though the quarantine is keeping us all indoors (or at least in close proximity to our homes) much longer these days, that doesn’t mean we need to annoy the hell out of our spouse. In fact, this can be a time for us to grow stronger as a family and closer to our spouse. To try new things like a movie or board game night. To learn more about what makes each other tick.
And, to be thankful that our spouse and immediate family are safe and, hopefully, healthy.