Functioning During the Dysfunction
I hate to be “Captain Obvious” however, we are currently living and loving our spouses in the most unprecedented times in human history. The year 2020 started with the entire world, but especially the United States, battling the Coronavirus, which turned our lives upside down and inside out. The summer was ushered in by the eruption of significant, violent, and ongoing racial unrest due to the unjustified murders of African Americans such as Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, and the heinous shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The fall of 2020 promises a divisive and contentious Presidential Election season between two candidates and political parties that have never been more diametrically opposed to one another in their divergent visions for the future of the country. In a word, things are extraordinarily dysfunctional in our world right now. And, keeping a stable marriage during so much chaos can be an exceedingly difficult feat to accomplish.
Here are a few suggestions on how to keep your marriage functioning in a dysfunctional world:
· Get Out of the House– Beat physical dysfunction with physical movement. While doing some of the normal activities that you used to do together may be unwise or even prohibited (going out to eat, going to the movies, etc.), don’t let that stop you from getting out of the house and doing something together. Take a walk around the neighborhood, ride bikes together, go hiking, do some light yardwork together, and if you live by the beach like Tracy and I do, you can go and still social distance yourself. Make it fun and conversational!
· Reconnect with Family & Friends – Real talk, Tracy and I see each other more now than pre-COVID-19, but just the two of us can get to be too much (We sometimes get on each other’s nerves)! We need others in our lives because they are a big part of our marriage. Just think about when you got married and family and friends or at least some witnesses were present. We are not meant to do marriage alone. So, one thing that keeps our marriage functioning is video chatting. To me, it is better than a phone call, because it gives me an opportunity to SEE people no matter how far away they live. Tracy and I now do a weekly family Zoom video chat that keeps us connected to family much more than we were pre-COVID-19 which helps us remember why we said, “I do”. It’s not about us!
· Practice Emotional Self-Awareness – One of the most important things that I have learned about myself during this time period is that external forces such as all of the things I listed above can set me off in good & bad ways. I have discovered that if I do not monitor my emotions, Tracy and I can have some real intense moments of fellowship (what we call arguments). For example, my emotions have had to ride an extremely unpredictable roller-coaster, and something as simple as getting the mail from the mailbox has taken on a whole new meaning and produced some anger in me at times. To quote the ‘90s rap group, Das Efx, “Check yourself, before you wreck yourself,” so, I am checking myself daily. If I am starting to feel hot (angry) or cold (disconnected) I need to check my internal thermostat and adjust the temperature, or my marriage will take a hit!