We are all living a new normal these days, experiencing so much uncertainty and grief in our collective consciousness. What we do know is that it’s hard to be alone right now. Unfortunately, we also know that it can be difficult being in the same space for 24 hours with the same person. When that person is your spouse, it can lead to marriage problems.

We receive so many suggestions of things we can do during this time, such as learn a new language, take up a new exercise program, or read that great American novel we’ve put off for years.

Well, here’s a “significant accomplishment” we can all put at the top of our To-Do list today: When you feel triggered — or even slightly irritated — refrain from acting in a way that damages your relationship and causes marriage problems.

I think many of us felt incredibly sad when we read that the divorce rate in Wuhan China rose significantly after coronavirus lockdowns. So maybe we should start a movement where we go in the opposite direction… Would you like to join us? 

Take that first step on the journey to help you and your partner stay connected during the coronavirus crisis. When you incorporate these six steps in your daily practice, you’ll bring more care into your relationship and deepen your love as you move forward together.

Tip #1 – It’s Okay to Go to Bed Angry Sometimes

Go to sleep, surrender, wake up, and let the light of a new day bring a fresh perspective.

Tip #2 – Diffuse the Fight

Stop reacting and defending. Instead, be willing to listen. Bring kindness and empathy. Take a deep breath, and remind yourself to reconnect.

Tip #3 – Go the Distance

Fighting causes resentment and damage. Instead, stop and dialogue. Or schedule a dialogue to truly understand each other through the lens of empathy.

Tip #4 – DON’T CRITICIZE — Ever!

Criticizing damages the relationship, and you can’t take back your hurtful words. If you are doing this, pause and change your language to explain why you’re struggling rather than what’s wrong with your partner.

Tip #5 – Be a Positive Mirror for your Partner

Reflect back to your partner their best traits, why you married them, what you love about them, and so on. Your opinion carries a lot of weight!

Tip #6 – Hold on to Yourself

Keep your friends, your interests, and your own passions. Focus on mutual admiration and respect, and enjoy the differences.

Incorporating these six steps on a daily basis can help us act like adults. Specifically, they can help us have the capability of noticing our irritations and making a conscious decision to respond differently in the moment.

Here’s an Exercise to Help:

  • Make a list of the ways you react when you’re triggered. 
  • Next to that list, make a list of how you could respond differently. 
  • Study it daily and use it. Most especially, use it at the moments when your partner is acting like a toddler instead of an adult.

Here are a few Techniques to Help:

  • If you feel heat and upset increasing inside of you, take a pause and WAIT before you speak. 
  • Picture a stop sign 🛑.  
  • Ask, “What can I do to make this better right now?”

It really is okay to decide just to let things go. I know, our ego wants us to fight to the finish line to prove ourselves right. But instead, you can create a code word that both you and your partner agree upon as a signal to allow things to cool down. Or a code word to let it go and protect the relationship first. You can even select a funny word that makes you both laugh!

It’s especially helpful to value letting it go at bedtime. You really don’t need to stay up all night in a tear-stained and petulant back-and-forth when things can seem much better in the light of day. Go to sleep, get up, and make a fun breakfast. It will be over, we swear.

And don’t forget — if you have kids at home, they’re watching a movie about how to relate! Choose the movie you want your kids to view and lock in for their lifetime.  

If you are struggling with marriage problems during this crisis, we’re here to help. Check out our Imago Relationship Workshops and Relationship Therapy in Houston, Texas. 

We also have Online Couples Therapy and Online Couples Workshops right now!  All you need is a laptop with a camera and mic, an internet connection, and to download the free Zoom app.