“I wish we had more time together.” “With all of the kid’s activities, there just isn’t time to go on a date”. “When we have some time, we’ll just _______ (fill in the blank).”
Do those statements sound familiar? Well, be careful what you wish for. Here we are in the midst of a pandemic health crisis that has not only given us more time together but a whole bunch of it. Spouses, kids, pets, all day, every day – it can get overwhelming. And after only a little more than a handful of weeks into all this togetherness, for many of us, the novelty is wearing off and nerves are wearing thin. As statisticians work overtime these days, two of their predictions are that the birth rate will see a significant increase towards the end of the year (wahoo!), and, unfortunately, the divorce rate will increase as well. It can be the best of times or the worst of time for families and marriages.
In a recent article, one author wrote: “Everything is amplified in close quarters – your spouse’s quirks and habits, the things they do that are helpful and the things they do that might drive you a little batty.” (I can hear the AMENs resounding loudly!) He continues, “Being together in a small space for a much longer period than usual under stressful conditions means more opportunity to amplify both positive and negative dynamics.” Are you beginning to wonder how your marriage is going to survive this “when-will-it-end” moment of history? We’d like to offer some suggestions.
First, recognize the tensions and emotions that are present may be event-driven and not driven by your spouse. Don’t assign blame for tensions in the home when the real culprit is something none of us have any control over. This pandemic has forced us into a situation that is not only abnormal but is also fraught with unknowns, and this can be a recipe for conflict. We came to this realization early on in our ‘social isolating’.
I (Florrie) was grumping at my husband, Eddie, for something (who even knows what now). Just feeling out of sorts and irritable. Making bigger issues out of things that really were insignificant. Probably insinuating that my mood was somehow his fault. God was gracious in that moment to remind me it wasn’t Eddie’s fault at all. I was merely reacting to the situation, not him personally, although he became the target of my angst. So we would suggest you talk about the current events with your spouse and ask if it has impacted your relationship. Express that some of your attitudes might be less than desirable and that it’s not a reflection on them. Extend grace to one another daily; perhaps even hourly. Colossians 4:6 states, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each other.” Be kind to each other during this time and be compassionate.
Consider this next suggestion – Be intentional to identify the relationship distractors and overcome them. We all now have prime opportunities to pour into the important relationship(s) in our lives. Is it easy for you to sit on your computer all day? How about some Netflix binging? Mindless video- gaming? Or perhaps you find yourself glued to the TV for the 24/7 news cycle of virus updates. All of these could become default behaviors, not to mention huge distractors from building your relationship. We need to be intentional and purposeful to focus on what’s most important. Otherwise, if left to their natural course, your relationship will drift apart.
While we wait for the ‘curve to flatten’, we have another choice to make about our marriages. Will we be content to just survive this crisis, merely gutting it out to get to the other side, or will we choose to take steps to thrive through it? A good starting point may be to dust off your old wedding video or wedding album for a visit down memory lane. What was different in your relationship then and how is it now different? What would you like to recapture? What would you like to see changed?
To help solidify this, try setting up a few goals you can start to implement together. To get started, consider developing one spiritual, one relational goal and one fitness goal. Once you’ve mastered one, consider adding another. It may just be the momentum-shift needed in your relationship. Now is a great time to start new habits that can have lasting, positive effects on your relationship.
This season of uncertainty can be used to revolutionize your marriage. A time in which you don’t have to slog through it but can thrive. By being grace-filled toward one another, intentional toward each other’s needs, and setting a few collective goals, you just might be able to look back on this time as one of the pivotal seasons in your married lives.
Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
If we can help in any way, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Eddie and Florrie Martell