How to Stay Married during Quarantine

One thing quarantine has taught us is that we’re either super resilient and love being with family tucked away in the confines of our home, or we don’t. Let’s talk about the “don’t” part right now… 

Those who are struggling, take heed. There is so much anger, frustration, and turmoil happening in the world around us, and we need each other now more than ever. Your partner can be a built-in source of love, connection, and safety. The quarantine can actually make your relationship stronger!

How to Stay Married during Quarantine

Here are five things you can do to strengthen your relationship while you’re stuck in close quarters together:

  1. Have 20-minute conversations. I’ve written about this before, and that’s because it’s really important. Having just 20 solid minutes of connection time every day to sit with your partner, be present, and listen to each other adds more than two hours of tuning in with your partner each week. If you’re unable to do 20 minutes per day, make up for it on the weekends.
  2. Work on your “cooing.” When I mention this to the couples I work with, most of them are somewhat dumbfounded that I’m even bringing this up to adults. Isn’t it a little elementary? And yet 100% of the couples recognize how important it is to the conversation. “Cooing” has been shown to create an implied space of safety and security while your partner talks. Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you don’t want to curl up in someone’s lap and be rocked (figuratively and literally). Cooing is that verbal rocking.
  3. Practice holding space. When you have your 20-minute conversations, and while you practice your cooing, also practice just being present. What all human beings need is the feeling of belonging. That is, feeling like you are seen, heard, and understood. You and your partner both get that feeling when there is a silent, strong presence with one another. 
  4. Stay at the table longer. You’re home together, so go to the dinner table together and sit together. In the space, be present. When the kids get up, you and your partner stay. Use conversation cards (I’ve written about this before) to engage in meaningful conversations, or use this as your 20 minutes of conversation. Linger together a little bit longer. Those extra minutes help your overall relationship in huge ways. 
  5. Create rituals of connection. The small things you do each day help you feel safe, secure, and connected. Rituals of connection could include hugging as you part for the day (even if it’s to the home office), having alone time at the dinner table once the kids leave, cuddling at bedtime, morning coffee on the patio, celebrating small family wins together, have regular movie or game nights, and making meals together. Rituals of connections are things you do again and again that show your commitment and bring you joy in the process. 

Being in close quarters and in each other’s space is tricky. If I’m being honest, these suggestions need to happen all the time, not just during the quarantine. But now you have a golden opportunity to make some changes in your relationship.

Jennifer Slingerland Ryan
Jennifer Slingerland Ryan knows a thing or two about kids and families. First, she knows they are joyous, exhilarating, loving and so darn fun. Second, she knows they suck your life dry and make you weep like a baby. By day she’s a psychotherapist; by night she’s a mom and wife. She claims to love therapizing couples, educating parents, reading dystopian fiction and sleeping in her free time (read: she never sleeps). Jennifer is a mom of twins who are sweet as sugar, but just hit that tween stage so all bets are off. Her youngest is...a joy. Let's just stop there. Most days you can find her in her office seeing clients, doing laundry, loading or unloading the dishwasher, or catching up on the latest episode of Real Housewives of (Insert City Here), Walking Dead or This Is Us. She is a tree-hugging country girl from West Texas who reads, writes, and teaches about human development and families as a hobby and profession. You can read more from Jennifer at her therapy blog, ichoosechange.com