by Labrena Friend, LMSW
It can be so nice to come home at the end of a long workday and spend time with your spouse or partner. Catching up on the day’s events while you prepare dinner. Enjoying a walk together. Settling in on the couch for your favorite TV show. But how can you miss a loved one who NEVER leaves?
Couples, and families, throughout the world are dealing with that quandary now, as millions of people are losing their jobs, and many more are telecommuting just yards away from a loved one who is also working from home. This is my reality in the coronavirus crisis. Both my husband, Michael, and I work outside our home in “normal” times. In the new reality, we’re both reporting for work every day from home, connecting with colleagues and clients via our phones and computers. That much togetherness isn’t easy under the best of circumstances, and the COVID-19 crisis has added numerous financial and health worries for many people – in addition to the general sense of unease many of us feel.
There’s no magic solution to these stresses, but here are a few tips that may help you keep peace in your household:
1. Be Patient: Understand that everyone is under stress – not just your spouse, but everyone you encounter on the phone, in a text or email, in the grocery store or on the street if you are venturing out. Cut EVERYONE a little slack if they do something that offends or irritates you – your partner or anyone else.
2. Close the Door: If you’re trying to concentrate on your work, situate yourself, if you can, in an area where you cannot see or hear whatever else is happening is your home – including your partner’s conference call. A little seclusion can help you be more productive and, ultimately, less cranky.
3. Claim your Space: Whether it’s reading a book, tackling a household repair or trying a new recipe, engage in an activity that you enjoy alone – and encourage your spouse to find something they enjoy solo. Often, our relationships are recharged by the time we spend apart.
4. Apologize: You may be worried about your finances, your family or the state of the world in general , and if you do find that you’re snapping at your loved one, let them know that you don’t love them any less now than you did two weeks ago. Promise to try to do better – and then follow through.
5. Timing is Everything: Now is probably not to talk about the issues that are most stressful in your marriage – and if those topics are not urgent, save them for a time when the ground feels less unstable.
6. Have Fun Together: Plan a joint activity you can both enjoy anticipating – a special home-cooked dinner, a favorite movie or board game, a pleasant walk at sunset. Reconnecting over something fun can help you remember why you chose that person in the first place – and remember all the reasons you have to be grateful.
For the safety of our staff, clients and the community as a whole, CJFS has suspended all face-to-face services. However our proessional staff is working remotely and our phone system enables us to respond to you quickly during business hours. Call us at 205.879.3438 if you need supportive counseling, at no cost to you, to help manage the stress and anxiety we are all feeling in this uncertain time. We also offer assistance for older adults and vunerable populations for needs such as food and medication. We are here for you!