Covid-19, the Corona Virus, has impacted the world. It’s struck a chord of fear into families with members who are at risk because of age or underlying health conditions. But, another worry is growing for those who are stuck together in quarantine or self-isolation. The fear is divorce, the death of their relationship.
Along with the growing numbers of people who contract the virus, there is also an escalating number of couples who are choosing to get divorced rather than remain together. Newsagencies have been reporting a sharp spike in couples applying for divorce after spending time together during home quarantine, in one region there were 300 applications in a three week time period.
Why should a couple, who have chosen to spend their lives together, decide to divorce because they are stuck together for a relatively short period of time? Probably the more important question is, how can you avoid Covid-19 and the stress of self-isolation pushing you into a divorce?
We, at Hitched, took a long hard look at what it is like to be with your significant other 24/-7, without the time being punctuated by work and time-out with friends. We asked ourselves what simple things could be done to make self-isolation more comfortable for all isolated parties, especially you and your spouse. The rules we came up with turned out to be very familiar and simple to execute, in fact, they are probably the same rules you have for your kids. All you need to do now is apply them to yourselves:
1. Chores first.
If you’re going to be stuck in-doors for the next few weeks (or however long this pandemic lasts), it’s essential to get into good habits. Don’t go into holiday mode and let everything pile up. You’ll get frustrated really quickly and the higher the piles of dishes and laundry the more annoyed you’re going to get with each other. Start each day by doing the jobs that need to be done.
2. Pick up After Yourself.
Not pulling your weight in the home is a sure way to irritate your spouse. They are not your slave and shouldn’t have to take on your responsibilities as well as their own. Divi-up the jobs and help each other out.
3. Say Please and Thank You.
It’s strange how we want our kids to say please and thank you, but don’t apply the same rule to ourselves. Don’t bark orders at your spouse (back to the … they’re not your slave thing). Being polite shows respect and that you care about each other.
4. No Screaming or Yelling.
You don’t need to raise your voice to make your point. Raising your voice will probably cause the other person to raise their voice too. Very soon you’ll be yelling at each other, and neither of you will be heard. Even if you expect this from your child, expect more from yourself. Take time to calm down instead of communicating from a place of frustration.
5. Use Kind Words.
Kids can be mean, especially when they’re tired, out-of-sorts and grumpy. Adults can be mean too for the same reasons, and stress can cause words to surface which are less than kind. Our kids loved the Bambi movie when they were growing up. Thumper was often quoted ‘If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all’.
6. No whining.
Complaining is as contagious as Covid-19 if you want to create a toxic environment in your home, go ahead and complain. If, however, you want to create an atmosphere which is healthier, you need to stop whining. Whining won’t change what you’re going through; it won’t change being stuck in, having job instability or coping with stress.
7. Don’t Complain About Being Bored
Okay, so this is a little like ‘no whining’, but it was a rule we had in our home when the kids were growing up. If they said. ‘I’m bored’ I would respond, ‘Oh dear, what a shame. Let me find you a job to do’. They very quickly found a game they could play instead. If you’re bored, get up and do something, get a job done that has been ignored for ages. If you don’t want to do that, then be creative and find something else to do without relying on someone else to provide the answer to your entertainment needs.
8. Be Thankful.
One of the best ways to break habits like whining and complaining is to look for things to be thankful for. I used to be a picky eater as a kid so my Mum always reminded me about the kids who didn’t have anything to eat. While I remember thinking, ‘Give my tomatoes to them then’ eventually the lesson sunk in, and I learned to be grateful for the blessings I had.
9. Take Turns.
If you have kids at home, then you’ll find that tag-teaming responsibility for looking after them has its bonuses. Give your spouse an hour’s break to clear their head and do something for themselves. It might be to have a soak in the bath, to be able to read without interruption or to watch a programme. Then they can return the favour.
10. Limited Screen Time.
Whether it’s TV, video games, phones or other screens, it’s not good to be on them 24/7. Turn them off and do something as a family. Cook together, play a game, read a book but do something that stimulates the mind and stimulates conversation.
Put yourself in time-out if you’re grumpy. If you’re in a funk, take some time out to shake it off and get a better perspective. Time-out isn’t a time to dwell on the reasons why you’re upset, it’s more of an opportunity to calm down and be ready to apologise.
Kids can squabble about a lot of things but one thing they have a strong sense of is fairness. If one of you is hogging the TV remote or forcing their choice of Netflix series on you all, you can be sure that the other one is storing up resentment. Don’t be selfish, take turns or better still find something you both like to watch.
13. Be Friends.
Kids are great at making friends, but many couples have forgotten what it’s like to relate to each other as friends. Friendship involves chatting not just about serious things. Don’t be afraid to talk about fun things, do things together for each other and have fun.
14. Hug and Make Up.
When kids fall out with their siblings and friends, we tell them to hug and make up. Apply the same rule when you’ve had an argument with your spouse, don’t storm around or mope in silence. Swallow your pride, put your arms around them, apologise and make up. It’s a lot less painful than carrying a grudge.
15. No Interrupting.
This one can be taken too far especially if you’re a monologuer (if that’s a word) and your spouse isn’t allowed to get a word in, however, in general, it’s a good rule. Wait until the other one has finished speaking until you start to talk. It’s incredibly frustrating to be interrupted before you get a chance to finish saying what you were thinking.
16. No Eye-Rolling or Pulling Faces.
We can communicate in a lot more ways than with the words we speak. If you’re an eye-roller, it’s an unhealthy habit. You’re expressing disrespect every time you fall into that trap. In fact, you’re behaving like a teenager. Pulling faces falls into the same category of unhealthy communication, and since body language makes up the majority of communication, it’s vital to stop it.
17. Go Outside and Play.
This one will really depend on where you’re living and what rules are in place. Where we live, we’re allowed to go outside as long as we practice social distancing. We know for some that simply won’t be possible. If you’re lucky enough to be in this position though then do make use of the opportunity. Get some fresh air together. Go for a walk and hold hands.
18. Say I’m Sorry.
There are times you’re going to make a mess of things, we’re all human, and we all do. In those times it’s important to say you’re sorry. Don’t just say it with your words, say it and make sure that your tone and actions back it up.
19. Say I love You.
Love is a precious gift, and it’s all the more important to express your love for each other when you’re going through tough times. Please don’t take those three small words for granted; they’re important words. Say it, show it, let them know it.
Those are our 19 tips for improving your relationship during tough times. We hope that they help, if you have any ideas you’d like to add to the list please let us know.
Love each other well.