How Does Coronavirus Affect Your Marriage?

3 Mistakes Everyone Seems to Be Making and the Simple Fixes

Some people say quarantining with your family because of COVID-19 can be a wonderful bonding time, but what if it just feels like daily drama and conflict?

You’re not alone.

That’s adding stress when you’re already anxious about Coronavirus, financial losses and adjusting your life to the new normal.

Here are the mistakes that everyone seems to be making during quarantine that can lead to wall-to-wall hostility or a cold war, and the simple fixes that will help you restore the playfulness and passion at your house.

Mistake #1: Not Enough Solitude

If you’ve been asking yourself why you’re so irritable or on edge, lack of solitude may be the sneaky culprit that’s affecting your mood.

Before quarantine you had time alone–maybe at work, on your commute, or when the kids were at school–and now you’re together all the time.

You still need solitude as part of your daily self-care. Without it, everybody you live with is going to get on your very last nerve, especially your spouse. Click To Tweet

You might be thinking it’s impossible to have solitude during quarantine.

It definitely requires some effort to put that structure in place, but it can be done.

Bonnie, one of my students with young children, has established a two-hour mama break in the afternoon every single day.

Every day!

She is vigilant about having that time to herself and has trained everybody in the family that they can’t ask for a snack or even a hug or anything else during those two hours. She uses the time to take a bath, a nap, to read or journal.

She went from feeling ragged and irritable all the time to being the happy, smiling mom and wife she wants to be, all because she gives herself those two magical hours.

If even the idea of taking a timeout makes you feel guilty, think of giving yourself daily solitude as a way of giving the gift of a loving partner and parent to your spouse and kids.

Only happy people have happy relationships. If you’re not making yourself happy, it can cause a lot of extra drama and Needless Emotional Turmoil.

So you wanna ask yourself, how can you carve out some alone time every day as part of the new normal as a way of being a better spouse?

Mistake #2: You Have a Negative Spouse-Fulfilling Prophecy

Now that we’re all so close all the time, your partner’s flaws can seem really glaring, and it’s only natural that you not only notice them but comment on them. So you might be saying to your spouse: “You are such a slob!” Or “You’re drinking too much!” Or “You’re wasting money!”

This is what humans do. I’ve done it! But it didn’t get me what I wanted. At all.

What I was doing was reinforcing something about my husband that I didn’t want to be experiencing. I was affirming the negative behavior–the one that was bugging me.

Here’s the simple fix: Since nobody’s behavior is all black or white, you could decide to focus on what your partner is doing right.

Maybe you are married to a slob, but if you wait to catch him taking his plate to the sink you could say, “You’re so good about cleaning up!” Catching him doing something good and affirming that is one way to have a completely different experience.

It might feel like a stretch, but so what? What you focus on increases. Why not choose your focus about your spouse intentionally to match what you prefer?

My student Sage’s husband drank too much, which had been a source of conflict for them for decades, even leading to a separation. Her unwitting Spouse-Fulfilling Prophecy was “You drink too much.”

She decided she had nothing to lose by trying a Spouse-Fulfilling Prophecy experiment, so she looked for evidence that he was a moderate drinker–even though that felt like a stretch–so she could thank him for it.

She found evidence that he didn’t drink as much as some of their friends and that he never drank and drove, but she was nervous to say it to him.

When she finally did, he looked at her like she finally got him. So she kept it up and now she says his drinking is no longer a problem.

He even says about himself now, “I only drink moderately.” She was amazed to hear her words back to her and see him end his drinking early.

If your man is drinking more to cope with quarantine–or engaging in any other negative behavior–you might want to create a positive Spouse-Fulfilling Prophecy for him instead of a negative one.

People tend to live up to your expectations for them, so why not experiment with expecting the best?

Mistake #3: You’re Being Too Helpful

Coronavirus is scary! There’s disease and death in the news every day and financial insecurity from job loss everywhere.

One of the ways that people cope with fear is by trying to control.

You’re spending so much time together. You’re feeling anxious about everything. That’s a recipe that could cause anybody to become controlling.

The problem is, you don’t feel like you’re being controlling–you feel like you’re being helpful.

You’re just telling your spouse how to cut an onion to help them do it better.

You’re just helping to remind them that they should eat more vegetables or take their vitamins so they’ll be healthier and have better immunity to the virus.

You’re just advising them on how to talk to their boss to be supportive.

You’re just reminding them it’s better to file for unemployment now than to procrastinate.

So there you are being what you see as “helpful” then your partner is defensive and you can’t understand why.

Being “helpful” is just a euphemism for control, and nobody wants to feel controlled.

There’s an underlying criticism when you’re telling your partner how to do something, like they don’t know how to do it themselves or they won’t do a good job.

It’s bound to cause some conflict when your partner thinks you’re criticizing their abilities or judgment.

The cheat phrase that you can rely on if you find yourself falling into this very common temptation to control is the phrase “whatever you think.”

Let’s say your partner is talking out loud about whether they’re going to do a home workout or go for a walk outside and you think they should stay inside. You can demonstrate that you trust them to make good decisions by saying “Whatever you think.”

You might be surprised at how well things turn out when you let him know you trust him.

One of my students, Shelly, decided to kick her control habit when her husband was considering a new job opportunity. She had a history of advising him, or “helping” him decide, which had caused a lot of fights in the past.

This time was different. He was telling her about how a headhunter had found him a job and she wanted to tell him it wasn’t a good idea, but instead she decided just to listen.

When he asked what she thought he should do, she said, “Whatever you think,” even though it was scary. She was amazed that after a few minutes of talking to her about it, he made the decision on his own to turn down the headhunter’s job!

No fighting. No tension. In fact, Shelly felt closer than ever to her husband and relieved of the burden of having to help him make a decision.

Coronavirus can put stress on your marriage. It might even be causing a breakdown, but crisis and opportunity travel together.

This could be the breakdown before the breakthrough in your marriage.

It might be the flashpoint that has you decide to study the 6 Intimacy Skills™ and practice choosing your faith over your fear so you can stop feeling stressed, exhausted and lonely and start feeling desired, taken care of and special.

A few months from now, you may look back and feel happy, accomplished and proud of how you used the time to create the very outcome you intended in your relationship.

Whatever challenges the recent events are bringing you, having a strong community of amazing women standing for your greatness will help you get through them while also being your best self.


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5 thoughts on “How Does Coronavirus Affect Your Marriage?”

  1. I’m age 62. I’m in a 10yr relationship with my live-in boyfriend. He is college degree and masters and his retired. We knew each other in college. 10yrs ago we found each other and we were once crazy in love. I have used many of your techniques successfully: self care, being thankful and appreciative with success my boyfriend also age 62. Our problems have been intensified during the stay-at-home orders.

    Problems: Excessive drinking which is a long time problem since the beginning. And poor personal hygiene: He does not wash or brush teeth frequently enough. He is insulted if I ask him to brush his teeth or wash his hair. He prefers that I bathe, feed him, trim his nails etc. I do not want to be his mother. Now he needs another root canal. These infections can be dangerous (since he has hypertension); I never ever comment except that I am not kissing him with an oral infection. Once we had to take him to the ER and have IV antibiotics. The next big problem is that he grows his hair & beard out long for a “homeless person” type of look; and he looks scary esp with the greasy hair. On any public facing web sites, he always posts a nice picture of himself and I complement him on how nice he looks in this pics. However, he grumbles even at my complement. When he does clean up his appearance he returns to his long hair and shabby beard. (note: He was in the Navy for 20 years). Also he wonders why people treat him poorly and he does not deal well with people. He tries to get me to take care of his personal matters since he is poor with people. He frequently complains that he has been treated poorly. He is not close with his two brothers and always had a poor relationship with his mom.

    He is looking to a buy himself a separate home as I own this one 100%. He wants a place in Florida with no neighbors where he does not have to wear clothes. I am inclined to say “goodbye”. Situation = hopeless. We have no shared children and no shared finances. I think about that song with the lyrics… “You have to know when to fold em”.

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  2. Hi Laura. My man and I fell in love at 1st sight 8 years ago in our 40’s. He moved out mid Jan and we have sort of kept in contact – he has called me and sends the odd text, still with kisses on. But he won’t come back. Ive tried out all your recommendations.
    I am in shock. Our friends and family are shocked. We have had such a brilliant fun affectionate relationship. I accept our situation now as I am able to write reflectively. We haven’t handled all the challenges very well and have taken it out on each other. I’ve started to take HRT, exercise again, go out to work, buy nice clothes do my hair & make up and I feel completely back to my old self and full of the joys of life. I feel great but I miss my man. After advice I started no contact 2 weeks ago. He hasn’t even tried to contact me. I do trust that this is the right thing to do so that he can reset his feelings for me and attraction levels. I love your recommendations. I had started to say things like: whatever you think, thanking him, apologised for disrespect and asking him for help which received brilliant reactions. Over 3 weeks ago I suggested he come back home and we could self-isolate/co-habitate in the house together as its a big house. Instead of accepting this he just came and collected his mail. We haven’t spoken in 3 weeks but now he has asked if he can come over on Saturday to collect a wardrobe for his sister. He wants to meet his sister & her partner at my house (that he has left) and come into the house and collect things! We are all locked down. I am distraught that he is willing to risk my health and come and collect a wardrobe for his sister! Clearly I am no longer important. I know so little about him: I don’t even know where he lives! I am distraught. How can I get him back. he is the love of my life. What should I do. Please Can you help please?

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  3. Laura, I love your resources and fully agree with the necessity of alone time. Not just in the time of coronavirus but all the time. I wish I could say this was possible. The only alone time I get from my two babies is between 9-10pm. This is the only alone time I get with my husband as well. Nevermind he wants nothing to do with me, it feels hard to forfeit this hour with him. Even if we sit in silence 🙁

    I have a question about the “Relax” step in the roadmap. My husband already manages all the finances, and I manage the rest of the household tasks. All of them. He seems to think I do nothing. Nothing!! What do you recommend in this situation? I can’t imagine him being happy to take more on when he thinks I’m already not pulling my weight.

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  4. While we’re still technically newlyweds, we’re also rebounding from a near divorce. As in, he announced it to our newly engaged friends a few months ago out at dinner and left me at the restaurant.

    Since then I’ve been exhausting my self-taught Doyle charm. It’s the only thing that’s kept us from killing each other – and seems to have healed many of our wounds in the past few months.

    The self care aspect is reminiscent of the love tank in Gary Chapman’s books – and totally true. I still don’t do enough for me… but every bit has helped… Helped me to overlook and stop nitpicking. It’s afforded me patience.
    Also, I’ve stopped being helpful. It hurts my mentality (and my tongue as I’m biting it ALL the time) but the outcome has been amazing:

    Tonight I came out of an online 2 hour testing session (as I’m continuing my education) to an outdoor meal, table all set with food, napkins – and complete with wine. He waited until my test was done to let me know it was ready.

    Thank you – the coronavirus combined with your teaching has benefited my marriage beyond belief.

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  5. Hi Laura, I love the intimacy skills but it just doesn’t seem to be working for my marriage. You see, my husband seems to be against my self care. Ever since I started focusing on my own happiness, I’ve had to gently say no to a lot of his demands since I knew they would drain me. It makes him go crazy. He has told me that he loved me more when I used to do whatever he wanted (this has been going on for months now) and I try to stay strong. He is opposed to the things that make me happy- he says we don’t have money for cleaning help, tells me I’m crazy when I ask him nicely if he can watch the kids so I can have time to myself, he says he hates the lectures I bought on how to take care of my emotions since now all I care about is making myself happy…So what do I do now? Where am I going wrong? Also it’s impossible to have an emotionally intimate conversation with him…he’s light years away from being in touch with himself. I’m vulnerable with him and tell him about my challenges in all areas of life, but he either puts me down or just nods and switches the subject to something mundane…ouch! I feel so lonely…Which tool should I work on? What am I doing wrong here? Any input would be appreciated!

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