Marital stress while quarantined during COVID-19 can easily be magnified. Conflict, stress, tension, differences, and anger can push you to your breaking point. Moving past frustration and anger and into that place of apathy can make you wonder if your marriage is worth saving or if it is a hopeless waste of effort.
You can only shed so many tears, yell so many times, and argue so much until you’re asking yourself, “Is my marriage worth saving?” That’s a big question that ultimately only you can answer. There’s no one size fits all approach. Constantly arguing and feeling that your spouse doesn’t care for or cherish you requires a very different response than issues stemming from abuse, addiction or infidelity.
If you’re experiencing abuse or there are dangerous addictions present, you should definitely seek the counsel of a qualified professional. If you are just tired of trying, seeking help from a qualified professional may still be a wise step. There are some things to consider when answering the question, “Is my marriage worth saving?“
Do we clearly understand the issue(s) in our marriage?
My wife and I went through several years of tension and conflict because I did not understand what the real issue truly was. The tip of the iceberg was me making decisions that we didn’t fully agree on. After years of running into this same issue in various ways, I finally understood that the real problem was that she didn’t feel valued. Though she’d said it before, I didn’t hear it until I heard it. Symptoms distract lots of couples, and they never address the underlying problem.
That can be frustrating and test one’s patience. How long does it take to understand the issues in your marriage? It took us several years. There were days when my wife thought it’d never happen, but I’m glad we kept trying. Truth be told, there will always be things that creep into our marriage that we have to continually seek to understand and work through.
Has COVID-19 and being quarantined magnified issues in our marriage?
Managing underlying issues within marriage is nothing new. Often the organized activity in our life helps us to manage our marital relationship. Our jobs, kids’ schooling and extracurricular activities, friends, civic duties, and social life all become avenues to keep underlying issues at a low level. Attempts at resolving them may have proven unsuccessful in the past, so you managed, overlooked, or ignored the problem.
Being quarantined can shine a bright light and expose any ongoing conflict you may have. All of a sudden, we’re totally focusing on our issues and differences. We feel trapped in them. We’ve neglected and forgotten what we do like about our spouse and what does bring joy in the relationship.
During this quarantine, we should be working to magnify the positives within the marriage rather than the negatives. I’ve realized that many of the low-level underlying issues were simply because of individual differences and preferences. Some of it, in fact, most of it was small stuff that bothered me because I see it all the time now. And some of it we just had to work through, because, well, we had to. Leaving it on the fringes was no longer an option.
Has the quarantine caused you to realize that you’re unhappy or caused the unhappiness?
I have made the mistake of looking to my wife for my happiness. This is an incredibly unfair pressure to place on her. During this shelter-in-place period, I’m reminded that me being happy, while at home, all the time, is not her responsibility. It’s mine. Personal fulfillment comes from within and that’s what I aim to bring to the marriage.
Have you really tried everything?
At times in my marriage, I felt like we had tried everything: late-night talks, counseling, and other strategies. I have found that when we’re at that point, I am most successful when I talk to an experienced, healthy married couple who has traveled the road ahead of me. Their insight has been valuable and humbling. Having a few trusted, healthy couples that I can be brutally honest with and receive wise counsel from has probably saved my marriage. Admittedly, I had to swallow my pride to make the phone call. However, it’s definitely been worth it.
We gather baggage in every relationship we enter and exit. Divorce is complicated. The effects of divorce on children is complicated. Divorce and remarriage are even more complicated. Statistics show that 60% of second marriages also end in divorce and 73% of third marriages.
In a national study, University of Chicago sociologist Linda Waite studied couples who said they were happy five years after rating their same marriage as “life in hell.” She wanted to find out, “How did things get better?” Waite says that often couples shared something like, “Mostly, we just kept putting one foot in front of the other and things began to get better.” She says, “Many of them were influenced by friends’ advice to hang in there, that they were headed in the right direction.”
I’ve talked to countless couples who’ve been married for 20+ years. They all tell me the same thing with a smile of satisfaction. Marriage is hard. Real hard. The hardest thing they’ve ever done is stay married during some of their most difficult times. Time and time again, they encouraged me to find it within myself to push through and hang in there. “You won’t regret it,” they tell me.
Is this really the right time?
It’s usually wise not to make major life-changing decisions during a crisis. A pandemic that threatens to reshape how families operate, the world socializes and does business qualifies as a crisis. The uncertainty of health, employment, education, and money means added stress, anxiety, and fear. Many of us aren’t our best selves right now. It’s easier to become emotionally exhausted in the midst of a crisis and not have the energy to fight for your marriage right now. Making major decisions when we aren’t our best selves and living with someone who isn’t their best self makes it difficult to make the best decision for you about whether you marriage is worth saving.
Time, work, and marital tools will often help us develop the skills needed to persevere through the seemingly insurmountable obstacles that are often magnified during a crisis such as COVID-19.
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***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***