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Living in quarantine due to the COVID-19 crisis can be tough on marriages and families. Some people are dealing with very high levels of stress and anxiety. We’re stuck in the house 24-7, so we don’t really get a break from our spouse and family. It makes sense that relationships might be struggling.

How can we turn this around? Are there things we can do while in quarantine that might actually help strengthen our relationship with our spouse? Here are 6 ideas to help:

Idea #1: Don’t Displace Your Stress

With the COVID-19 crisis, stress levels are at an all-time high. Many people have lost their jobs and are facing financial pressures. Folks are worried about their health—they may have gotten sick themselves or are worried about friends and family members who are sick. The social isolation guidelines have made it tough to visit older family members who may need our help. The reality is that people are STRESSED.

It can be easy to take our stress out on our spouse or partner. This is called displacement—when we satisfy an impulse (e.g., aggression) with a substitute object. We might be angry at the Coronavirus or God, but we take out our anger on our spouse because they are an easy target. Don’t take out your stress on your spouse just because it’s convenient. Be clear about what you are stressed or angry about.

Idea #2: Get Your Energy Out

Many of us are cooped up in our house all day long. This isn’t how people operate best. We are designed to move, exercise, and get our energy out. It can be helpful to spend some time each day moving our bodies and exercising. This can be a bit more difficult in quarantine, but there are lots of ways to exercise in your home using minimal equipment. Don’t sit around and let your energy boil over. Get your energy out. This can also be a great way to connect with your spouse—exercise or go for a walk together.

Idea #3: Find Ways to Connect

Many of us like to connect with our spouse by going out on dates or doing fun activities. This is limited now that we are in quarantine. But we can still have fun together—it might just take a little creativity. Here are some ideas for ways to connect with your spouse:

  1. Exercise together.
  2. Play a board game. (Check out this list of best board games for two people. I just bought a new game for us the other day.)
  3. Watch a show on Netflix together.
  4. Have sex.
  5. Get some new recipes and cook dinner together.
  6. Complete a home improvement project together.
  7. Plant a garden in your backyard.
  8. Read a book together.

Idea #4: Take a Break

Sometimes quarantine can feel stressful because you are around your spouse for much longer than you normally would be. You might feel pressure, like you always have to be talking or connecting. This isn’t realistic. It’s okay to take a break and spend some time doing your own thing. Just because you are in the same house together, you don’t always have to be interacting. If you’re more of an introvert, try to find a balance between alone time and together time.

Idea #5: Socialize Virtually 

I know, I know, it isn’t as fun as hanging out in person. But it can still be fun to connect with other friends virtually using Zoom or Facetime. The other day, we had a “virtual brunch” with a few of our friends. We talked with some friends about getting together for a “virtual game night.” If you like to socialize, try to find workarounds to connect virtually with your close friends and family.

Idea #6: Be on the Same Team

When life gets stressful, it can be great to have someone in your corner. Ideally, your spouse can be this person for you. If things start to get tense, see if there is a way to reframe the situation so you can be on the same team. Try to brainstorm solutions to your problems together. Make it a priority to understand what the other person needs and how you can support them. Try to work together, instead of at cross-purposes with one another. Who knows, maybe you will get through the COVID-19 crisis stronger and more connected than before.

Discussion

How has the COVID-19 crisis (and quarantine) affected your marriage? What has been helpful for your relationship during this stressful time?

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