PPP... Pandemic Partnership Protection
You are spending 24 hours a day with your spouse. All of a sudden their small flaws that you tolerated are in your face day and night! The stress of the pandemic and being with your partner so much more than you are used to is taking a toll on your marriage. You are bickering more, focusing on each other's weaknesses instead of strengths Sexual desire and intimacy have decreased and any problems you had prior to the pandemic has become even worse.
It's been difficult to see friends and social activities are limited therefore partners have become dependent solely on each other to fulfill all their emotional and interpersonal needs. You are feeling lonely, unhappy, and dissatisfied with the state of your marital relationship. Therefore, the heightened desire to seek love elsewhere especially online has increased during this time. Instead of turning toward each other to rebuild connection, many couples are turning outside their marriage to seek relational satisfaction.
Many couples are experiencing high stress in response to COVID-19 which has put couples at risk for experiencing infidelity. The pandemic has not stopped people from cheating on their spouses. Instead, infidelity seems to be more rampant than ever-especially online. With a click of a button, you can easily access membership to online dating. Pandemic or not, "innocently" texting your high school sweetheart or someone else that you would not want your partner to know about is wrong.
Soon after lockdown, there seems to be an increase in divorces. Lockdown has been the most time people have ever spent with their spouse which put a test to their marriage. Going into the office may have been your outlet. Now, you might feel that you are experiencing a relationship overdose!
Jimmy and Meghan have been married for 19 years and have two children together. Jimmy has been working from home since the start of the pandemic. Meghan takes care of the children at home. At first, the pandemic seemed to be the perfect idea for Jimmy and Meghan's marriage. They both were excited to spend this much time together as Jimmy used to get home from work by 8 pm nearly every night. Meghan thought that Jimmy would have more time to spend with the kids and she would be able to have a little more time to herself. As a couple of months went by, Meghan started to notice all of the things that made her frustrated with Jimmy. Meghan could not stand the way Jimmy would chew his food and could not stand how loud he spoke on the phone. Meghan started to notice all of his flaws. All of a sudden, Meghan noticed that Jimmy would not show her much affection. Meghan was feeling isolated and trapped in her marriage.
As months passed, Meghan thought it would be a great idea to get her needs met elsewhere-online. Before she knew it, Meghan was having an emotional affair with a male from across the country. Meghan knew it was wrong but her secret lover was able to fill the void for her. Meghan felt "loved "again! But, the infidelity put a huge wedge in her marriage. Meghan knew it was not fair to Jimmy and her kids. Meghan felt too far gone in her emotional affair. She did not know how to put an end to this.
If you don't want to get to the same place as Meghan and Jimmy please read and follow the PPP... Pandemic Partnership Protection tips:
1.) Spend time apart: Yes, spending time apart may be a difficult thing to do when you are supposed to be locked inside your house. Be firm with your spouse and let them know that it would be healthy if you spent some time apart for a few hours. Pick a room in the house to read a book or watch a movie. It is ok not to be glued to your partner!
2.) Find a hobby you love: Maybe you like to paint or you like to do yoga. Pick and choose a hobby that interests you that you can do individually during the week.
4.) Talk about how you feel: If you notice you are feeling isolated and lonely in your marriage, let your spouse know. It is good to be upfront and open with your partner in these trying times so you both can be on the same page. You can develop a plan on how to move forward.
5.) Write a list of what is going well: Writing out the pros of your marriage and what you are grateful for may help you see your marriage in a more positive light. Ask your partner to do the same and if you feel comfortable, go over this list with your spouse. Compare your lists and see if you share the same thoughts!
6.) Know your limits: When you feel yourself becoming frustrated with your spouse, don't yell and scream at them. Take a break and approach them later when you are calmer.
7) Aim for a 5:1 ratio: Try to balance your relationship with 5 positives to 1 negative interaction. Positive interactions could be showing appreciation towards one another, complimenting each other, sending a warm and fuzzy text, or just having a deeply meaningful dialogue that makes you feel connected to one another. Research has shown that it takes 5 positive interactions just to get rid of 1 negative! In other words, think of it as an emotional bank account. You need more deposits than withdrawals otherwise your relationship will go bankrupt.
8.) Have sex: Physical intimacy builds connection and releases feel-good chemicals in your brain. I know... you're tired, overwhelmed, and not in the mood. Stop making excuses and just do it! You will be surprised at how much better you will feel about yourself and your relationship.
9.) Quality vs. quantity: You may be spending lots of time together but it's not quality time. It's more about sharing the same space in the house but not really enjoying each other's company. Plan a date night, play a game, be goofy, or tell each other jokes. You need to be romantic and have fun and laugh together again.
10.) Try marriage counseling: This could be a good time to reach out to a marriage or couples counselor. You can do individual counseling or with your spouse. Since the pandemic has caused us to have a little more time on our hands, taking an hour a week to talk to a professional could be helpful to your mental health and marriage.
If you are struggling and need PPP we are always here to help!
Risa Simpson-Davis, LCSW