Meg Luce: Marriage under quarantine
There are some anecdotal reports that in parts of China the divorce rate is rising. According to an article in The New Yorker this month, there was a spike in petitions for divorce in Xi’an, the capital of the Shaanxi Province, where more than 10 million people were under quarantine for two months in response to the novel coronavirus. Now that the country is regaining its normalcy, the Chinese social media platform, Weibo, has been abuzz that divorce is the first industry to rebound.
With millions of U.S. citizens now under self-quarantine, does this mean our eventual recovery will also include an uptick in divorces? If absence makes the heart grow fonder, marriage under quarantine presents its challenges.
We are all under stress. There are worries about fragile immune systems; concerns for aging parents; economic hardships; faltering businesses; working from home; restless children underfoot; feeling anxious and distracted; not to mention longing for our normal routines and in-person social contact.
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And who is the usual recipient of each other’s rising stress? You got it, your beloved.
On top of the regular things couples gripe at each other about, now there are a host of new things. “Did you wash your hands for 20 seconds?” “Did you use the sanitizer with 60% alcohol?” Or, “Seriously, more canned goods?”
My husband came home beaming last week after he had hauled in several large cans of some sort of pulverized spinach and protein product and additional bags of beans. I was less than enthusiastic. He said the shelves were bare at the store. True. And he felt like he had brought down a “woolly mammoth” to feed us. I said, “Okay, but how many woolly mammoths do we need?” (On the other hand, I was adequately thrilled when he hunted down a container of Clorox wipes.)
We are sheltered in place with the likes of each other. Could we have imagined all this when we gave our vows for better or worse? In sickness AND in quarantine?
Before you decide that your spouse is the problem, just remember, this forced togetherness can be intense for all of us; even those that usually like each other a bunch.
Here are some ideas to help you and yours get through the long days of self-quarantine while leaving your marriage intact.
Cut Each Other Some Slack
We all need to give some slack; the cross word; the hint of sarcasm. Let it go. Even if it’s a mantra you must mumble to yourself to keep the other words from popping out of your mouth. “Cut some slack, cut some slack,” can come in handy.
Find things to do together
Check out this blog post with 75 creative ideas for spending time together. It’s called, Ways For Couples To Connect During Sheltering In Place, by Marriage and Family Therapist, Stacy Lee.
Take space from each other
Take a sabbatical to the other end of the house. Have some alone time and see if your heart will grow fonder.
Whether it’s affection or sex, get those good hormones flowing.
If you don’t laugh you’ll cry. And there is a lot to, shall we say, laugh about.
Socialize while social distancing
Get your Bunco game, book club, or socializing on video chat. Take a walk “with” your best friend by catching up on the phone while you walk.
Limit the news
We know this.
Unresolved Issues May Surface
During all the stress and intense time together, unresolved issues in the marriage may surface. No need to despair. This could be a wake-up call that your relationship needs some attention. Attention, you can give it. Professional couples therapy can help. Many therapists offer online therapy if you want to get that support right away, while tucked safely in your own home.
We’re going to make it through this, get out of the house again, and life will get back to being richly interactive. When you look back, you’ll want to remember how you and your spouse pulled through it together.
Meg Luce, M.S., is a Marriage and Family Therapist in Grass Valley specializing in helping couples create satisfying relationships. You can find her contact info at https://NevadaCountyTherapist.com
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