Everyone across the globe has been thrown into a new normal, which is anything but normal. We are adjusting to working from home, distance learning and social isolation. My husband said to me “I’m so happy to be in quarantine with someone I like so much.” I thought to myself…must be nice. All kidding aside, this much quality time with your spouse can be very difficult. Even though we’re all stuck at home together, it can feel like quantity time instead of quality. Here are 4 tips you can practice today to make your relationship not just survive, but thrive in this crazy time.
1. Saying “goodbye” and “hello”
Even though your commute is 30 seconds long, from the bedroom to the makeshift home office you slapped together in the guest bedroom, try giving your partner a kiss “goodbye” before you start your day and find out something that they are doing that day. When you both “return home” from your job, give your partner a warm welcome and again find out something about their day.
2. Manage your schedule
Working from home doesn’t mean you work from your first sip of coffee to the moment your head hits the pillow. You can be flexible with your work day, but make sure you set limits around work. Schedule time for work, self care, and relationship time. Get into a project together, a new show, play a game, cards, or even just sit down to plan a future vacation (for when vacations become a thing again!).
3. Manage your expectations
Do you even know what day it is? When was the last time you wore actual pants? Everyone is under more stress than normal. A large part of our brains is being occupied by toilet paper shortages, the economy, and murder hornets. (Really 2020? Murder hornets?) Try to give yourself and your hunny bunny a break. If your partner forgets to take out the recycling, it’s okay. We don’t need any more stress. It’s okay to make a mistake.
4. Express gratitude and appreciation
My sweetheart makes coffee for me every single day – I don’t function well without it! Do I say thank you to him every day? Nope. We often take our partner and their loving gestures for granted. Get into the habit of expressing appreciation for that pot of coffee. Express appreciation for the way your partner can make you laugh. Whatever it is that really draws you to them, remember to express gratitude and appreciation.
Put some real pants on and try these tips this week to change that quantity time into something resembling true quality time. See if you notice some improvements in your mood and your relationship. Hopefully, you will be able to honestly say that you’re happy to be safe at home with someone you like.
If you want more tips, sign up for the Marriage Minute emails from the Gottman Institute.
If you are seeking marriage counseling, call Transitions Counseling Services at 781-742-4515 or fill out our Request an Appointment website.
Written by Heather Haupt, LICSW trained in Gottman Marital Therapy