5 Relationship Tips for Surviving the Stay at Home Order

By Jacki Post Ashkin, MSW, LCSW-C Director, Community Connections, Jewish Community Services

When China first began lifting its quarantine, something, perhaps not too surprising, happened. Divorce rates spiked among couples, who had found old wounds and hidden fissures in their marriage simply too hard to overcome.

Yet, spending 24/7 time with your spouse throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, doesn’t have to lead to divorce. Here are a few tips from Jewish Community Services on how to navigate your marriage during this period.

  1. Give each other space. For many of us, the lines between work and home have been erased. We don’t have the natural breaks we took for granted. It may be as simple as sitting in different rooms or taking a solitary walk outside, but you both need a little time to yourselves to relieve the pressure.

  2. Spell it out. If you want or need something from your significant other, it is your responsibility to speak up and clearly state what you are seeking. It has never been reasonable to expect your partner to be a mind reader, so don’t start now.

  3. Respond, don’t react. This is a stressful time for everyone. Tensions are running high, which can make our fuses short. Layer on the pressure of constant close proximity, and the stage is set for conflict.
    If your partner says or does something that gets under your skin, take a beat and let a few moments (at least) pass. If you flash back in anger, chances are your partner will become defensive and things are likely to escalate. This is the time to exercise self-control. Take a few deep breaths, and consider the best, calmest approach. You’ll be more likely to get the results you want.

  4. Show gratitude. Make a conscious effort to notice the small things your significant other is doing right. Did they make dinner? Clean up their work space? Rub your shoulders? Put the cap back on the toothpaste? Say thank you. We all want to feel appreciated. A little can go a long way, plus it reinforces the good stuff.

  5. Do some creative collaboration. This can be an opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade. Brainstorm cool things you can do together. Want to try your hand at upcycling an old piece of furniture (think Flea Market Flip)? Research and plan a future trip? Have a ‘who makes the best chocolate chip cookies’ competition? Play a new game? You are only limited by your collective imaginations. Who knows, you might discover new interests as a couple that you’ll want to continue pursuing long after social distancing fades from our day-to-day vocabulary.

If you need help during this period, call the Jewish Community Services hotline at 410-466-9200.

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