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Things are super weird at the moment. And admittedly pretty scary. With the world increasingly on lockdown, we’re basically all stuck at home! Many relationships will be tested due to lockdown, fear, and the stress of being together 24/7. Here’s our advice on getting through hard times together.
For some of us, this constant togetherness isn’t out of the ordinary. My husband Nathan and I both work at home and we have for several years. In fact, we have done this living in several tiny apartments, as well as while living out of a campervan in Australia for 5+ months. We are pretty much experts at living and working in very close quarters.
This post is about how to deal when you’re stuck at home 24/7 with your spouse and with the ones you love. How not to end up killing each other out of frustration and lack of space. How to keep being loving even when it’s hard.
While this may be a trial you’ll face together—or at the very least, a trying time—you can actually use this opportunity to strengthen your bond. Here are 10 tips for living through this tough time and ensuring your marriage not only survives but thrives.
Table of Contents
Make quiet time not just okay, but essential
When you’re with family nonstop, it can be draining. This is especially true if you’re an introvert. Being home is delightful for the introvert, but being around other people without a break? Depleting.
To be at their very best, introverts must prioritize regular solitude. This refreshes and reenergizes. But extroverts need time to themselves, too.
Whichever way you lean, when you’re stuck at home together, you have to consciously plan for some quiet time. Schedule it into your days. Discuss as a couple (or as a family) how this is going to look.
For some, quiet time may just be an hour or so when each person gets to be by himself or herself in separate rooms. There should be a rule in place that they are not to be disturbed during this prearranged quiet time.
What about if you live in a very small space? You may simply need to designate a “no-talking” time, where each person can read or relax without having to interact. Headphones can be a good tool for distancing yourself when you can’t be physically apart.
If you allow for this quiet time each day, both you and your spouse will appreciate the opportunity for solitude and reflection.
Know that annoyance with your spouse is normal and okay
Feeling irritated with your partner? This is completely normal, and it’s okay. Living together and being stuck at home, it’s inevitable that you will experience some annoyance with the people around you. If you typically work outside the house, you’re going to see your spouse in different situations than you usually do. Who knew that he liked to pace around so loudly when on work calls? Why does she need to vacuum in the middle of the day? Your habits and idiosyncrasies (and those of your spouse) are out there to be seen and heard, and they could potentially be subjects of annoyance.
This is one reason that prioritizing quiet alone time is so vital—it gives us a chance to decompress. But you shouldn’t beat yourself up about these feelings. Such feelings are natural and to be expected.
Move your bodies
One of the hardest things about sitting at home is, well…sitting at home. You’re going to become much more irritable and antsy if you’re being mostly sedentary. For that reason, schedule some time each day to do a bit of exercise.
It doesn’t need to be a full-on workout, especially if that’s not something you usually do. But simply make time to move your body around. This will keep you healthy, flexible, and help reduce your stress levels (vital in periods of uncertainty).
You can also use exercise as a way to connect with your partner. Why not dance together around the kitchen? Try an exercise video together (and laugh your way through it)? Or, for something to really get the heart pumping, get upstairs to your bedroom and get your love on.
Be adaptable, be flexible, be patient, be kind – key to getting through hard times together
This advice is perhaps the most obvious, but when dealing with any kind of difficult situation, it’s essential to remember to be patient, flexible, adaptable, and kind. It can actually be tough to keep this in mind. You’re feeling cabin fever, annoyed at having no time to yourself, irritated by your partner’s habits and constant presence. How can you be kind and patient?
You’re not perfect, so you’re going to mess up. We all are. But if you can commit to making an effort to act in these ways, you will likely find yourself doing so much more readily and easily. It’s all about trying your best, keeping an open mind, and trying to roll with the punches as they come.
One thing you can do to reinforce these positive behaviors is to make sure to take care of yourself. Make time to do the things you enjoy. Relax. Spend some time in nature, or in quiet meditation. Try to calm your mind and body and you’ll find that these virtues all come more easily/
Get creative to avoid cabin fever
Speaking of cabin fever, you’re likely to get it when you’re home on lockdown for an indeterminate period. How can you avoid it? My advice is to get creative!
Who can be bored in a world where there are so many things to discover, learn, watch, and explore? Even when you’re stuck at home, you can do so many things:
- You can travel virtually.
- You can take a live exercise class.
- You can watch musicals, opera, and ballet (and many of the performances are free right now!)
It’s easy to spend your lockdown on the couch binge-watching Netflix and scrolling Facebook, but at some point, you need to break away from these activities and try something new. This diversity is key to keeping your mind engaged and active. Don’t fall into a rut. You’re already stuck in the same place right now. Don’t get bogged down in doing the same things, especially things that don’t have value.
Many people are suggesting trying new hobbies or learning new schools. There are lots of free or affordable courses you can take online, or YouTube has thousands of free videos. See also: 100+ Things to Do at Home
But what about things you can do as a couple?
We’ve got literally hundreds of ideas for you! Start here: 50 of the Best Date Ideas for Couples
Don’t neglect date night during this season. If anything, it will help retain some normalcy during what is a weird time, and it will help to solidify your connection with your spouse.
Accept that things are weird
Let’s be honest. Being on lockdown is not normal. Things across the globe are super weird right now. This is not business as usual. So don’t expect it to be. You’re going to feel a lot of emotions during this time, a lot of them unpleasant and unexpected. That is totally ok.
Just today, I cried when I got back from the grocery store. Why? I have no idea. #Relatable
During any times of experiencing trials in marriage (whether external or not), the same advice applies. My suggestion is to have patience with yourself and go easy on yourself (and your spouse!) It’s ok if you feel like an anxious wreck, or if you have zero motivation. Despite what I said before, if you need to lay on the couch and binge Netflix, you do you. It’s not the time to be hard on ourselves. It’s the time to be gentle and loving.
Accepting that things are weird also means that you don’t have to try so hard to make things “normal.” If you have kids home from school, don’t feel the need to create a rigid schedule of online learning. Allow things to be a little wonky and a little messy. It’s life. And it’s okay.
Do a digital detox
One of my biggest tips for dealing with being home 24/7 is to make sure to take regular breaks from technology. This is so important!
I personally find this pretty difficult to do, since I work online, connect with faraway family members online, and enjoy all the usual digital delights like YouTube, Reddit, Facebook, Kindle, etc.
But I know that it is not healthy for my brain and my sanity to be staring at a screen nonstop. Nope. I have to force myself to put down my computer and phone for a time. And with the lockdown going on, and spending even more time at home than usual, this is more relevant than ever.
There is a world beyond your screen. Don’t forget about it. Let’s try together to digitally detox at least a couple of hours per day.
This has another benefit, too. At this time of global crisis, those devices keep us connected to the fear and anxiety that constant news creates. You need to take a break from this for your own wellbeing. While you should certainly stay informed and up-to-date with what’s going on, make sure you’re spending time focusing on other things.
Create opportunities for intimacy
In marriage, intimacy is important. In times of trial and tribulation, it may be more important than ever to make time for closeness.
The advice here is the same as with other things: make it a priority. Schedule it in, if you have to. I know that doesn’t always feel “sexy” but doing that is a way to say to your spouse “I value you and I value our time together.”
So like anything else, make time for the intimacy your marriage deserves. This is a great opportunity to be a little extra romantic with it, too.
If you’re home all day, it can be easy to stay in those pajamas from morning ’til night. Trust me, I know. But if you want to kick the romance up a notch, make an effort to dress up for your partner! Even if you’re not leaving home, you can still dress up in something nice for date night or for an intimate evening together. Your partner will totally appreciate the effort and it will give your intimacy a special zing.
Communicate openly and often
Talk about it. Talk about the good and bad, your worries, your fears. Talk about the fact that this situation is difficult.
And be an even better listener. You may have no idea how your spouse is feeling during all of this, but if you truly listen, you will. You can discover what they need from you and how you can be the most helpful partner possible.
Good communication is far and away one of the hallmarks of a successful marriage. It’s going to be more essential than ever right now.
Read Next: The Best Books about Marriage and Relationships
Be there for each other
This is an anxiety-ridden time. Remember to be patient with your partner and hold space for them to have whatever feelings they are having. Maybe your spouse is particularly scared and worried with all that’s going on. That’s okay. Try to be a support and comfort whenever possible (and not at the expense of your own needs). If you’re the one feeling down, remember that your spouse is there for you in times of trouble. For better and for worse, you can turn to them. That type of love and support is what will hold us together when times get tough.
You might also want to read:
- Relationship Advice for Couples: 12 Principles for Lasting Relationships
- 10 Relationship Rituals That Will Help Your Love Last
- How to Strengthen Your Marriage: 6 Simple Things to Do Every Day
- 9 Cute Car Date Ideas for a Great Date
- How to Fall Back in Love with Your Partner: Tips from 10+ Years of Marriage
- 10 Ways to Maintain Connection in a Relationship
- How to Save Your Marriage: 7 Tried & True Tips for You
Amy Hartle is the author of Do You Love Me? How To Stop Seeking Reassurance in Relationships, a book on reassurance seeking and relationship anxiety. Both her book and this blog are born of personal experience; Amy shares expert relationship advice from the lessons learned during her own 10+ years with her husband, as well as couples travel tips and romantic getaway recommendations, all gleaned while traveling the world together.