There’s a meme going around to the effect that at the end of our collective incarceration, we’ll either see a spike in the number of pregnancies, or an equivalent number of divorces.
Enforced togetherness, in other words- love in difficult times, will bring out either the best or worst in our relationships.
There is more than enough stress going around to put any marriage to the test. And, keeping love alive in a relationship is going to nothing short of a challenge.
Worries as to the safety of loved ones, massive disruption in daily life, scarcity at the supermarket, economic uncertainty, and a sudden need to manage needs that were the responsibility of others, either inside or outside the home, are now urgently apparent.
We are adjusting, moment to moment, to a new normal that is anything but. And this is assuming the best-case scenario, that no one has fallen ill, either by COVID-19 or a less (or more) serious disease.
Most of us, fortunately, are not facing anything quite as severe as an immediate health emergency.
Still, even in the sanest and safest of circumstances, we are being forced to adapt to new ways of dealing with each other, and everyone else in the house.
Issues surfacing during the difficult times
It is indeed a challenge to maintain love in difficult times!
It happens that conflict around the division of labor is one of the most significant issues I see in the couples I treat; what happens when the old rules, timeframes, and habits have been upended?
Are we yelling at each other over who does what, who left the unsanitized takeout bags on the counter, whose needs for the computer take precedence?
This requires a very real reprioritizing, and the need to redraw lines that made sense in the past. Or, perhaps, did not actually make sense or seem fair, in which case, we can take this opportunity to improve them.
A hug that once soothed your partner might now be alarming if you’ve just cleared your throat or rubbed your nose. Moreover, being isolated from the community that every couple needs to have in order to feel supported is apt to shine a spotlight on our fault lines.
With the coronavirus anxiety, other minor irritations, old and existing hurts, defensiveness, and exhaustion cropping up without the usual outlets and adaptations, things can quickly get out of hand.
Love in difficult times can become taxing to an extent where we are no longer able to relate to the charm of this most divine feeling.
But, we need to realize that however demanding love in difficult times might seem at the instance, it is not something permanent. Just as any other time, these testing times, too, will pass away.
Are you wondering how to find happiness in your marriage, watch this video:
Keeping the love alive
One way or another, we’re all in survival mode, and there’s no easy answer to going about love in difficult times.
But as a starting point, we must understand that the old rules have been upended, along with fears, enforced togetherness, and potential illness.
That understanding is a starting point for the new (if temporary), rules that dictate how we’re going to live together.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Marcie Scranton is an LMFT who specializes in relationship conflicts, major life transitions, depression, anxiety, and issues arising from recovery. In addition, she is trained in Trauma-Focused CBT, Systematic Training for Effective Parenting, and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. Her approach is results-oriented and incorporates modalities based on Attachment, Existentialist Theory, Object Relations, and Family Systems.