In moments of crisis like the current pandemic, the first step to make the best out of the situation is often a change in perspective. The COVID-19 lockdown has people staying at home and in each other’s company, and the right outlook can help you shift your marriage to a higher gear, focus on what matters the most in your life, and bring you closer to your partner. We didn’t choose the crisis, but our response to it is totally up to us.
Here are some practical tips that are helping many couples thrive even in the current situation:
1- Help each other deal with negative emotions: The coronavirus quarantine is an added trauma to an already existing one: the economic and financial crisis in Lebanon. Their toll is brutal and our emotions will fluctuate between anxiety, apathy, numbness, sadness, grief, anger, hopelessness, denial, and exhaustion. Validate and understand each other’s feelings as you help each other come to terms with what is going on.
2- Practice healthy coping skills: Meditation, breathing exercises, drawing, listening to music, reading, journaling, redecorating, and fixing your home are all activities that you can enjoy together, which will also help you cope.
3- Spend quality time together and have fun: Have good discussions, revisit old memories/photos, play games, watch good/funny movies, and engage with each other.
4- Be kind: Always remember that small constant acts of kindness keep the marriage alive. Each day think of at least 5 things you can do for your partner that can put a smile on their face.
5- Be respectful, always: Destructive criticism, insults, name-calling, sarcasm, neglect, and physical abuse are far more dangerous to your marriage than coronavirus is to your health. Avoid them at all costs!
6- Be supportive to each other, divide roles and house chores: Solidarity builds strength and a sense of belonging. Help each other with the logistics of everyday life.
7- Make your home a haven: Dwelling on negative news, focusing on your partner’s negative behavior, complaining… all these will replace positivity with bitterness. Focus on all the positive things around you, remind yourselves why you fell in love, and above all choose your battles wisely: don’t waste your energy on insignificant stresses.
8- Stay connected with family members and friends: Physical confinement should not lead to relational confinement and isolation, keep in contact with those closest to you outside of each other.
9- Give each other some space: Spending some time alone to let off steam or to meditate in peace is very beneficial.
10- Play with your kids: These amazing little creatures are fun, worry-free, optimistic, creative and pure-hearted. Exactly the type of friends we need in time of crisis!
11- Pray together and for each other: Spiritual intimacy with God is great for your mental, physical, and spiritual health.
Look at the COVID-19 quarantine as an opportunity to get closer to your partner. Think about the story you would like to tell your grandchildren many years into the future about how you both survived this crisis: you are the author and protagonist of this story, make it meaningful and purposeful.
Dr. Jerome Daher S.T.D.
Assistant Professor, Chairperson of the Department of Religious, Cultural and Philosophical Studies, Faculty of Humanities