As someone who has been married for almost 55 years, I know from personal experience how stress and unexpected circumstances can lead to tension and turmoil in a marriage. It can be hard enough just to survive our normal lives, and seem outright impossible to survive when we’re in the middle of a global pandemic.
There’s no doubt that many married couples around the world are experiencing high degrees of stress and tension right now. And it’s certain that the circumstances we currently find ourselves in is putting marriages in jeopardy.
If you’re like me, I married someone who is my complete “opposite.” For example, my wife, Charlotte, is wired to respond to life in this way: “Here comes the judge!” However, I’m wired completely differently. I respond to life in this way: “Just let it slide, Clyde.” More simply, when Charlotte is scared, I am typically confident. Or when I am angry, Charlotte is typically a beacon of peace.
So, when you’re married to someone who is your “opposite,” how do you survive? How do you make it through days or weeks or months of being confined within the same space? How do you survive raising children or caring for the sick when you can’t even leave your house?
If you’re feeling tension or feeling trapped, or if you’re at your wits end, I want to share a few tips with you on how to survive your marriage during this global crisis. Throughout our marriage, these tips have been helpful for me and Charlotte as we have faced trials and turmoil:
- Chaos Can Transform Into Order through Prayer. Carving out some personal time each day to devote to prayer, meditation, journaling or solitude has helped us become intentional in our words, thoughts and actions toward one another.
- Listening First, Talk Second. Seek first to understand your spouse, and then to be understood. (Note: See prayer by St Francis below.)
- Take a Walk Together (or Alone) to Clear Your Mind.
- Play Games. Charlotte and I play scrabble and card games to make sure that we are still having fun!
- Laugh. Laughter is medicine for the soul.
- Start Over Several Times a Day. Starting over again and again is one the greatest acts of service you can give to your spouse and yourself.
- When You Need Space, Ask for it. Try not to be offended if your spouse just needs to be alone sometimes. Respect each other’s space.
- Ask the Most Important Question: “What can I do to help?”
- Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously. Take a deep breath and just relax.
- Conversation Starters: Visit coachinglifematters.com to find some easy and helpful conversation starters titled Marriage Matters.
If you would like to send me some tips that are helping you stay mindful and calm during this crisis, please pass them along and I will share!
And lastly, please remember that God is closer than the blood in your veins. He loves you and He sees you. And He listens and is eager to respond to your greatest needs.
Joyfully, (I have trained to choose joy. You can, too!)
Terry S. Smith
President & Founder
Coaching: Life Matters
A Simple Prayer
Lord, make me an instrument of
Where there is hatred… let me
Where there is injury… pardon.
Where there is doubt… faith.
Where there is despair… hope.
Where there is darkness… light.
Where there is sadness… joy.
O Divine Master, grant that
I may not so much seek
To be consoled… as to console.
To be understood… as to understand.
To be loved… as to love
It is in giving… that we receive.
It is in pardoning, that we are
It is dying… that we are born
to eternal life.
— St. Francis