Saving your marriage during COVID-19 if your relationship is already rocky may seem difficult, if not downright impossible. This is a time of chaos and uncertainty, yet if you understand something basic about human nature and your own nature, you will navigate this time and possibly even flourish in your marriage.
Luckily, there are specific tools you can use to ensure you don’t call it quits. What we first need to understand about our self and our partner is that as humans we feel most secure in the familiar. The familiar gives us a sense of safety, and most humans want to feel safe more than anything.
In March 2020, overnight, we experienced not only a global shock, but massive upheaval and change. It was chaos. What felt certain and familiar was gone. Things changed quickly, and there were no clear-cut answers. There still aren’t in many ways. Now, we are navigating the second wave, and most people are just exhausted with it all. But there is an opportunity if we can see it.
Tips on Saving Your Marriage During COVID-19
We need to understand that it’s human nature to go into fight or flight patterns during chaos and change. Here, we focus on basic survival, and we are not thinking all that intentionally or clearly. It’s why people hoarded toilet paper when the pandemic started. That’s a fear response.
Fear responses do not exactly open the door to love, intimacy and passionate sex. In fact, sexual desire requires a certain sense of safety to be activated. There are areas in the brain that spark desire, and those areas require the “fight or flight” mechanism to be switched off.
Think of fear as the opposite of desire. Then on top of this, we may have existing issues in our marriage. The stress of this time may have exacerbated that, or we may just take our stress out on our partner. None of this is a recipe for love and romance.
The really dangerous thing is that we all also have past pain. And this pain gets triggered during “crisis”. Not only are we in a fear response about COVID-19, but it will trigger unresolved past traumas. It’s the perfect storm, but there is good news.
By actually understanding these things about our self and human nature, we can make these unconscious patterns conscious, and we can also make decisions about them.
Yes, there are spikes in addictions, unhealthy coping patterns, and relationship breakdowns, yet there are millions of couples around the world cultivating even deeper connections and renewing the spark.
What is it they know?
When Saving Your Marriage, Use the “Magnifying Glass” to See Clearly
COVID-19 has basically meant we are all under a magnifying glass – what was good before COVID-19 will be fabulous, and what was bad will be intolerable. So, you can either do the work, move through this, get help and create with more intention and clarity, or fall victim to your own patterns and the past. People who are thriving during this time are the ones who are diving in and using this time to build deeper trust, intimacy, and personal responsibility.
You Always Have a Choice – Choose What You Want
This is not New Age fluff. You may have certain circuits that get tripped in the brain, but you can DECIDE how you want to think, feel and act. Regardless of what is happening in the external world, you do have a choice in how you respond to it. You have a choice to create what you want within the environment of your mind and your home. You have a choice in how you interact with your spouse. One of the things my husband and I agreed upon, for example, was limited conversation about politics and not watching the news ticker all day with tallies. We also agreed to be kinder to each other than ever before because this is a challenging time.
Don’t Make Assumptions – Get Curious
This is always a dangerous practice, but right now when so much does feel uncertain, hyper-charged, and scary, it is important to NOT assume anything about anyone, especially your spouse. You may think you know them, or what they are thinking, feeling, and doing, but you don’t actually know for certain unless you ask. Instead of assuming, and usually feeling angry, resentful or hurt, get curious. Ask yourself: “What could this be about? What could be happening? Why am I feeling so triggered?
Then ask your partner what’s really going on in a kind way. Be open. Be curious. I teach my clients to just be in a space of curiosity and it has saved countless marriages because it creates a space of openness and safety, and safety is what most of us are craving right now.
Saving your marriage during difficult times can be hard, but if you can create a sense of safe harbor in your marriage, why wouldn’t you? It will ensure a rock-solid connection now and for years to come.
Shasta Townsend is a best-selling author, BIPOC sex and relationship expert. Her husband, Ian Lavalley, is leading a global love movement based on ancient eastern thought, Indigenous wisdom, and cutting edge science. www.7starlove.com