Marriage is for better or worse. Living through a pandemic is definitely worse.

When I talk about the Coronavirus infecting your marriage, I don’t mean literally. If you and/or your spouse has had or currently has the virus, I pray that the symptoms were mild and the recovery swift.

I’m talking about whether or not all the social distancing has meant more alone time with your spouse, new tests and trials with your kids and frayed nerves all the way around. If the pandemic has put stress on your marriage, you’re not alone. Arguments, irritations, a simmering negative attitude toward your spouse, they all take their toll on a marriage.

I Used to Think that was Cute

When we attended our Marriage Encounter experience, I remember one of the presenters saying that the thing that most attracted us to our spouse is often the thing that eventually ends up irritating us the most. I didn’t believe it.

She went on to say that when they were dating in college, her boyfriend was pursuing the ministry. He had a loud, booming voice that would carry well when preaching, and she loved that. Fast forward a few years after they got married, and that loud, booming voice became embarrassing when they were at a gathering of friends or family and she could hear him from another room or even outside. She wished he could be quieter.

More together time during the Covid-19 pandemic can make things that used to be cute very annoying. And small things can become big things over time.

So what’s the cure?

1) Extend grace. God shows us love and mercy daily — and not because we’ve earned it. None of us is perfect, so making the decision to love and practice flexibility and forgiveness can go a long way toward healing hurts.

2) Build up your spouse. And don’t tear them down. In the “Five Love Languages” study, it talks about “words of affirmation.” These are positive words — something nice you can say about your spouse. Authentic compliments and unexpected praise can create positive feelings.

3) Communicate. Be honest about what you need from your spouse. Don’t hint at it; be specific. If you would like to have your spouse’s undivided attention, say so. Maybe even suggest when, where and for how long. In other words, don’t complain about them spending too much time gaming or caught up in a hobby and expect them to guess that you really mean that you’d like some of their attention.

4) Take passion breaks. Share a quick hug and a kiss multiple times a day and connect. Science has shown that when you hug someone, it relaxes muscles, increases circulation and releases endorphins. This can reduce tension and may even help soothe aches and pains. It can also improve your mood by increasing the levels of dopamine and serotonin in your body. And come on, it’s just fun!

5) Go on dates. You can do this without going out or spending much, if any, money. This website offers more than 100 date night ideas, and most can be done from home or in a socially distanced way. Plus, you can sign up for a seven-session virtual Date Night series to help you restore communication, rekindle your romance and renew your commitment to each other.

Be honest about what you need from your spouse

During the pandemic, many have discovered the silver lining of having time to reflect on priorities. Why not make your relationship a priority and take this time to build an even better marriage!

Written by : Rhonda Walinga

Rhonda and her husband are part of the marriage ministry at their church and have been presenting Marriage Encounter experiences since 1994. They live on a small acreage in eastern Nebraska and have two dogs and a cat. For fun, Rhonda likes to ride a tandem bicycle with her husband, read and watch TV.

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