If you were married before COVID-19 happened, did you like your spouse? We all know that loving someone doesn’t really imply that you need to like them. Maybe the reason the marriage worked in the first place was because of boundaries; a couple that works opposite shifts will find that isolation welcomed most of the time. Or maybe one of you has developed behaviors that send your other into tailspins of rage. Maybe you already knew what upset them and did it anyway.
There’s no way to sugar coat it, marriage can be difficult. It requires a level of communication with another person that isn’t always clear. Add in social media, financial stress, and a pandemic, and suddenly the person you said “I do” too can become an enemy almost overnight. But there are ways that you and your partner can survive the enemy phase. Here are 10 steps that you can use to help manage a struggling marriage.
1. Pick and Choose Your Battles
Our pet peeves are rage inducing to us. For your partner, they are just part of daily life. Take care to remember that even though it upset you, they may not be aware they are doing it. Or they may have forgotten that it upsets you. Take time to remind them of your peeves. Most of the time they probably don’t realize they are doing them.
2. Let Yourself (and Them) Be Alone
We all know that humans are social animals. That doesn’t mean that we need to be suffocated by crowds in order to function. Honestly, if you are living with someone, letting yourself and them have time alone can be one of the best things for both of you.
3. Get a Predictable Schedule
Sometimes we get excited over the small things. Planning on going to the bookstore or a salon? Make sure your partner knows about it. One of the most annoying things to everyone, is when plans need to change because the communication wasn’t there.
4. Talk About Boundaries
When you live with someone, it can be increasingly easy to overstep boundaries and treat your relationship as if it was unconditional. It’s important to set down expectations for each other and work together to be better.
5. Let Them Know Things
Women bottle things up, but men do too. Your partner does not know that something is wrong if you don’t tell them. Be kind to them and let them know when you are feeling ‘off’ or upset so they can adjust too. No one wants to make their spouse angry, so take some time to help your relationship become stronger.
6. Fight with Respect
Sometimes fights are unavoidable. Tensions build up until it either ends in bed or in a fight. So, when these fights do happen, make sure that they are done with respect. The goal is not to ‘win’ against your spouse. The goal is for the relationship to win over the problem.
7. Practice Communication
Remember that part about not being a mind reader? That was true. You shouldn’t just set up boundaries, you should work on your communication all around. This is especially true is there is one person not listening, and the other still putting expectations on them. Communication is a skill that everyone must learn, and we should be careful to not make assumptions.
8. Questions Not Assumptions
Speaking of assumptions, don’t make them about your partner. A person can be consistent and dependable, and still make a mistake. Instead of attacking them for something they didn’t think through, raise questions to them to understand their reasons. Give them the benefit of the doubt and a chance to explain.
9. Get Out Together
It’s hard to be trapped in a room or a house together for days on end. It can end in fights and power struggles. The next time you are both free, and there is an important topic that needs to be discussed, go outside. Take a walk together and feel out how the other person is feeling about the topic. Walking side by side will help you both feel connected and help find a solution to your problem or negative feelings.
10. Encourage Value in Each Other
Our spouse should be the person that brings the best out of us. These days, it can be difficult for us to find value in ourselves; but easy to find value in our partner. This is especially true if one person is feeling the effects of the pandemic more than the other. Take time to encourage and explain the value you see in your partner. They might need it more than you realized.