Crises, like the current pandemic that is wreaking havoc on economies and government systems, accomplish many things. Some of those things are commonly understood and easy to see; others are under the surface and take some time to take root.
Speaking of the latter, one thing this crisis is doing/will continue to do is shed an illuminating light upon marriages and family connections. Over 1/3 of the world has been restricted to staying at home, and there is very little wiggle room for the normal ‘escapes’ that existed in the our world before Covid-19 came.
Where your marriage is and what is truly consists of is front and center because it is the primary relationship (outside of kids/extended family who live with you) that you are experiencing right now. There are far less distractions and far more opportunity to be reminded of the state of your marriage.
Despite where you are, the great news is that the quarantine has provided an unprecedented pause in our society as a whole and in our personal lives. This pause is an opportunity to invest in the relationship that is front and center now: your marriage.
Sounds great, but the question you probably are asking (and the one you should be asking) is: Where do we start?
Take a look at the list below. You will see five suggestions for practical ways to strengthen your marriage. There is enough meat for you to understand the path, but there is enough wiggle room to make it your own.
Regardless of which one of these you try and enjoy, the point is simple: Start a healthy habit of investing in your marriage. Intimacy always comes through intentionality.
Set aside a specific and consistent time to talk
The current trend right now in business is to teach everyone how to manage a virtual team, and nearly every article you read will encourage you to have consistent ‘check-ins’ with your team. These touch points help everyone stay connected, understand the game plan, adapt to change, and get work done.
The same is true for your marriage – having a consistent touch point can help bring stability and connection in the midst of working from home, sanitizing everything you own, keeping up with the children, etc. Make it a time where you ask each other how the other is doing, especially if there is any financial or health related stress due to the quarantine.
These do not have to be very long; simply make them meaningful with the content and context of your communication.
Set a growth goal
We have goals for nearly everything in our lives: workout goals, travel goals, money goals, etc. They help us clarify where we want to be and motivate us to actually get there. What are your marriage goals? The specific ones that are defined and measured and have an intentional plan? When is the last time you had those?
There is a difference between your hopes and dreams for your marriage and the goals you set for your marriage. Your hopes and dreams are not bad things when it comes to marriage; they just are not enough. If you never develop your hopes and dreams into goals, they will actually create opportunities for disappointment.
So, why not start now during this quarantine to decide on a growth goal and begin working on it? You can start simply by filling in the blank: In the next thirty days we will __________________ by doing ___________________. The best question for you in this area is: If not now, then when will you do it? Get started – you won’t regret it.
Create a new routine together
When things are predictable, things feel safe. There are a lot of benefits to those types of feelings, but there is a downside if we are comfortable in what is predictable and what is predictable is not life giving. What feels safe in your relationship perhaps might be a guise for boredom.
This is a brilliant time for you and your spouse to create a new routine together. What have you wanted to do together but simply have never started it in the past? When you find one that you agree upon, you will discover a new energy and excitement around it – and inside of you for your spouse.
And remember, this routine doesn’t have to last forever to have been successful. We have seasons in our marriages, so determine what new routine would be helpful or fun in this current season and go for it.
Renew an old routine/experience
Not to contradict what is written above, but there are times where renewing an old routine or experience is a great thing for a marriage. We all have times when we really had fun together with a shared hobby, watching a specific tv series, or some other activity that brought joy and satisfaction.
Perhaps now is the time to try it again; My wife and I started to rewatch an old tv series that we enjoyed several years ago, and we have really enjoyed the time to reminisce on characters we love or loathe and seeing key parts to the story we actually forgot, all while not having the pressure to finish it quickly (classic binge) because he have to know the ending.
Spend some time reminiscing together about some of the fun and enjoyable things you have experienced together, and in doing so, you might discover something simple yet significant that you could renew.
Develop what life should look like once the quarantine ends
For most of us, we will not have this type of time together until retirement. While not every moment of the day has to be a strategic one, it would be a shame if there was no forethought into how this quarantine should impact the future of your relationship when it ends.
Pain reveals things in all of us, and pressure forces us to change and adapt. For the sake of your marriage, take stock in what has changed and how that should or should not be incorporated into life once ‘normal’ comes back.
Here are three simple questions to prompt you and your spouse to not let what has happened be a mere memory; instead, it can be a catalyst into a marriage that is the fulfillment of your dreams.
- What has ceased due to this season that should not be brought back to life?
- What is not happening that should start before this season is complete?
- What have begun to do in this season that should carry over to the next one?
May your marriage emerge from this quarantine stronger and healthier than it has ever been in the past. It will require some intentionality, but that intentionality will then produce growth.
On towards more in marriage,