How to Nurture Your Marriage During the Pandemic
Life is stressful. Whether you choose to let it feel like a punishment or meet it in a way that will create change in your life is up to you.
At the time I’m writing this, I’m quarantined in my Brooklyn apartment with my biz partner/husband and our only child, an 18-month-old baby girl - and our dog Waffle. If we stay inside, everything feels normal - it still feels like home, and our family energy is good. But opening the front door and going out into the real world is really hard.
People are angry, rightfully protesting centuries of racism and police brutality in the streets. Outside of my window there are helicopters circling and you can hear shots being fired in the distance. People used to make eye contact and smile at each other on the streets of my friendly Brooklyn neighborhood, but now we are masked for our mutual safety, avoiding each other in the street at all costs. It feels stressful and lonely to go outside - and then to have to strip and disinfect everything once you get back inside, slamming the door quickly behind you just in case infected air seeps in.
How the Stress of the Outside World Impacts Your Marriage
There are always crises happening in the world. Sometimes it is in another country, sometimes it's in your backyard, sometimes it's in your bedroom.
And while there are many things we can do to help the world (educating ourselves, signing petitions, donating, marching, speaking up and doing the right thing), real healing and change starts in our homes and in our hearts. The opportunity lies in how we raise our children, the quality of our relationships, how we train our minds, how we seek to understand and spread the truth, how we value ourselves and nurture our own hearts.
I used to be a woman that was always reacting to drama. I had a stressful job, was a procrastinator and was always late to everything - that’s the energy that I knew how to work with and respond to in order to keep things going. And unfortunately, I repeated these energetic patterns in my marriage - bringing everything from the outside world into my home and allowing it to fester, dividing us instead of creating a real team with my man. I didn’t let our home be a sacred container; it wasn’t a safe, loving place where I or my husband could let down our guard, breathe and simply BE. Our relationship became part of all the stress and things that needed dealing with.
One day my husband, who came from another country and is far away from his parents and siblings, expressed to me that while he loved me and we have a very loving relationship, he missed the feeling of “home.” He felt like he hadn’t found his place and he couldn’t fully relax here. He didn’t have a place to just BE. At first that made me feel really sad and terrible. I didn’t understand how to give him what he needed. I made myself wrong for a while, but then I realized that I simply didn’t have a model for this deeper kind of love and acceptance. And that this was an opportunity for real growth for me and our relationship.
I learned over time that men need a place to just be. Women have our own struggles that are intense, and we sometimes forget that men do too. Even the good men, those who show up for us and are getting everything done that needs to be done for our family, they still may have that longing for a safe space to be and that feeling of home.
Marriage is a verb in the same way that love is a verb. You have to keep creating together and making love happen in your home. You have a responsibility to yourself and the people that you love. And you are so lucky that you have this responsibility because it forces you to be better. It asks you to choose to always walk forward together.
5 Tips for Creating a Safe Space in Your Marriage
- Have a judgement free daily check-in where you can say anything you want or need to. We have to find a time to connect with each other every day AND hear each other out. At the end of every day, ask your partner - “Are you complete?” and see if there is anything they need to say or share so nothing is left unsaid.
- Be cool with alone time. We have to separate if we want to come back together. Taking time apart lets us nourish ourselves and feel excited about reconnecting, rather than allowing us to get sick of each other until we do something petty or explosive to get the space we need. Have time alone before you resent being together.
- Don’t take it personally. This might be a kind of shock, but your partner’s moods and reactions… might not be about you, and you shouldn’t take them on. Learn how to let your partner go through their stuff without getting triggered when you don’t like their tone or even if you’re uncomfortable with what they might be feeling. Remember that what we’re fighting about on the surface is usually not what’s actually going on deep inside of us.
- Slow down. You probably didn’t realize that you are allowed to slow down and rest any time you want or need to - not just on a weekend or on vacation. Slowing down is vital for your wellbeing, and for your man to be able to catch up and connect with you. He wants to be received by you, he wants to be in your orbit - and he can’t if you’re always busy doing just one more thing that needs to be completed. Take a breath, change your speed and let ease be your new priority.
- Control yourself. You don’t have to react or get triggered every time your man does something that doesn’t fit into your expectation for how they should be or what they should do or say. Learn how to look at every situation from an energetic perspective and ask yourself - Is it worth it? What do I lose by fighting? What do I gain from speaking in another way or tone, or even stepping away? You always have a choice and you are always in control of yourself. Use this to your benefit, and to the benefit of your relationship.
Michelle Keinan is a Relationship Expert with a focus on cultivating satisfying marriages. She employs NLP and Somatic Therapies to teach women how to strengthen their marriage bond without sacrificing themselves in the process. As a wellness multi-preneur and advocate for healthier emotional resources for women in business and at home, Michelle’s expertise has been featured on Thrive Global, Business Insider, Nasdaq’s On Deck, ABC News and more. Michelle and her husband Dan make sharing space an art form as co-parents, co-habitators, co-workers and co-founders. She created the popular #QuarantinedWivesClub on Facebook and her programs and offerings can be found at www.michellekeinan.com.