“I want my life back.”
I’m hearing from couples that this is the hardest time they’ve ever had to live through, that both partners are struggling and exhausted, that being at home together 24/7 is just not sustainable.
The worry of the unknown is hard enough – add to that a negative, bickering home environment and more than a few couples are already wondering if they will make it.
Consider this dream: you and your partner survive the Corona crisis with your marriage intact and your family even closer and more connected than ever.
You can make this dream come true – both of you, together.
Start with my tip #1: aim for zero negativity in your shared space.
And continue with tip #2: look for opportunities to see the good in your partner.
Replace the negative behaviors like criticism, defensiveness and withdrawing with positive attitudes and actions that will keep your connection safe and loving. Here are some ideas:
Rituals. Create a personal shared ritual for a couple of different junctures in your day –waking up, going to sleep at night, switching shifts of being with the kids. Decide together how you will mark the moment – maybe with a hug, a private joke or a song. Practice your rituals every day.
Words of affirmation. Look for opportunities (at least twice a day) to appreciate your partner with words. Even for something small, say: thank you, I’m impressed, that was great, I love you. Build up your partner – especially now.
Turn the negative to positive. When you feel a criticism of your partner building inside of you: pause, take three deep breaths, consider that she is really doing her best and that his intentions are good. Replace your criticism with a message or a gesture that gives the benefit of the doubt.
Practice kindness and empathy. This time is hard for both of you. How is it particularly difficult for your partner? Consider two different ways that you can acknowledge that difficulty. How can you make it easier for him/her? Have compassion for your partner’s particular coping strategy – it may be very different than yours.
Stop the blame cycle. If your partner blames you for something, rather than defend yourself or attack back – take responsibility and say: “I’m sorry, I’ll try to do it differently next time.” If you need to raise a difficult issue, start with “I feel that…” or “it’s hard for me when…” rather than with a criticism or judgement.
Be gentle with yourself and your partner over the coming days and weeks.
For more help through these challenging days, read my 7 Tips for Working at Home with your Partner and Keeping your Relationship Close and Strong