Prior to this time in history, I would not have believed that it could be possible for my husband and I to spend too much time together. Life was more like, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder…” because of all the work and social engagements that filled my calendar. We are now living in a new reality. Today, we are living in a world of quarantine over-familiarity, which often breeds contempt.
You may be feeling like a good long vacation away from your spouse is just what the doctor ordered and feeling guilty about even entertaining the idea. I mean, can anybody relate? Now, it’s like your spouse can’t do anything right. Just the way they say, “Good morning!” or “What’s on your agenda today?” In your mind, all you are thinking is, “Please, Please, PLEASE, stop TALKING to me. Your voice is IRRITATING.”
OMG! Why is this happening? We’re not like this! Now I am asking myself…
Did I marry the wrong person?
Did we fall out of love with each other?
Is THIS the “new normal?”
There have been several articles referring to increased divorce filings as a result of COVID-19, specifically in China where there were over 300 divorce filings in three weeks. Other media outlets have sought to provide AWARENESS of the conditions that may create “impulsive divorce requests.”
So, the answer to the question is YES. It is possible for couples to spend too much time together. But, it isn’t necessarily a concern or cause for divorce. If you’re feeling this way, here are a few things to think about:
You Are Not Alone. I know that sounds cliché. Many of us are going through the same things (too much togetherness, irritating behaviors from our spouse, being overwhelmed with work, home, family). We are ALL stressed or even traumatized by how radically our lives have changed. Be aware that stress has an impact on us physically as well as emotionally.
Double-Check Your Perspective. Be careful what you look for, because you’ll find it. Fear and stress can make you focus on every little thing that is wrong. And remember the little things are being magnified. The differences that you and your spouse have are being exacerbated. It has been easy for me to take my feelings (anger, guilt, frustration, worry, fear) out on my spouse.
Pre-COVID-19, we were accustomed to having a balance in our lives between our time together and our alone time. This lack of balance and the fact that it is all time together can make you notice the worst in each other.
Reach Out To Your Tribe. Talk to people in your circle that are for your marriage and who you can trust. Share your struggles. Ask them about what’s happening in their world. Ask, “How are you really doing?” How are other couples you know managing their day-to-day? Be careful—sometimes other people’s problems are contagious and suddenly become our problems.
It’s okay to take time out to have a ZOOM call with your friends or coordinate a FaceTime Tea Time or Google Hangouts Happy Hour. Talk to them about your stress, your concerns, or your fears. Now is when we need our good friends the most. Don’t be afraid to say, “I’m struggling.” REMEMBER, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Change Is Possible And Probable.
Some people may be thinking, once this quarantining is over, I am getting the heck out of this marriage. People harboring those feelings may mistakenly believe that it will be more of the same after quarantine. Proceed with extreme caution when it comes to making BIG, LIFE-ALTERING DECISIONS during or right after this experience. Give yourself and your spouse time to recalibrate your relationship.
Make sure you are controlling your emotions and not letting your emotions control you. For some, it can be especially helpful, after a trauma such as this, to involve a counselor or therapist to assist you in your efforts to process what has happened and create a plan for moving forward. Here’s a great resource to help you figure out how to find a counselor that works for you and your spouse.
***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 your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***