These are strange and unprecedented times we are living in. A lot of us have never lived through anything like this before. I used to hear stories from my elders about World War II. They told me they had no meat or sugar because they could not get them and when they finally could get them, they were rationed. These people had an appreciation for the simple things because they had been through huge life changing events that shaped and moulded them into the people they became. They were great people.
“The coronavirus is the event, that will mould us. The question is will we let it bury us and our relationships or raise us up.”
Stress is never good for relationships and I have heard lots of people saying especially on social media that all this being together 24/7 with kids under their feet and having no work will be cause for divorce! Even high-profile divorce lawyer Baroness Shackleton, whose clients have included Madonna and Paul McCartney, warned this week in Westminster that divorce rates will rise. She stated that demand for their services rise after long exposure periods like the summer holidays and Christmas. It is also worrying that 88 couples immediately filed for divorce once the quarantine was over in Wuhan, China where the Corona virus originated.
On the other hand, there has been baby booms after hurricane Irma, Sandy and Harvey not to mention other disasters involving snow blizzards and blackouts. Some of my friend’s husbands are self-isolating at home and they are so sad and frustrated because they can’t have a family dinner together, sit in the same room or even just hug their wife and children.
“Whether your relationship is dying or thriving during this very challenging, stressful time all depends on how you handle it and how strong your relationship is.”
It is not what happens to you that makes the difference it is how you react. So here are some tips on how to embrace this opportunity and protect your relationship.
1. Map out the day ahead and write down your to do list the night before. Most of the highly successful people in the world do this. It helps you sleep better and makes your day much more productive. You also waste less mental energy when you don’t have to remember all the things you have to do. List them in order of priority so you do the most important things first when you have the most energy.
2. Get enough sleep. This is vital for your mood and mental health. Eat well and exercise. You need to be at your best when dealing with an emergency and dramatic changes. People do better when they are positive and feel optimistic.
3. Keep a gratitude diary. Write down three things every morning that you are grateful for. Even though we are going through a crisis, the world and our lives are still beautiful. Seeing the beauty and appreciating that there are people worse off than you is the fastest way to happiness.
4. Plan spending time together. Plan a walk, a picnic or a movie. When we were in the rat race running for our lives, we dreamt of having quality time with our partner and family. Now is that time. Embrace is even if it is not perfect. Life is not perfect, but it is still amazing!
5. Spend time in different parts of the house. Go into a bedroom to work for the day and have dinner that night together. You can find space if you carve it out for yourself.
6. Live in the now. This de stresses you immediately and allows you to be your best self in the moment. Remember that this is temporary. Take one day at a time. Take comfort that the whole world is going through this too.
7. If one of you is self-isolating in the house leave notes around the house thanking your partner for the good things he does for you. Even if it is just him staying away from you so you won’t get sick! Forget the bad and concentrate on the good.
8. If you have children and you are working from home, discuss and balance the baby sitting between you so each person gets their undivided work time etc. This will ease frustration and build connection.
9. Lead by example. Choose to make these memories happy ones. This is especially important if you have children. Don’t immerse yourself all day in the news, social media etc. Be present for them. Let them remember “the corona holidays” as we are calling it, as happy holidays. If you are stressed, they will pick up on it.
10. Make a list of all the things you wanted to do but had no time. E.g. the books you wanted to read, the hobbies you wanted to learn through You Tube videos etc. This time is a golden opportunity, especially for the single people or people living alone to work on what you want and yourself.
11. Create a new type of date night. At the end of the day watch an episode of a comedy and have a glass of wine together. Laughing is the best antidote to stress and bonds people together.
12. Meditate even just for ten minutes a day. Meditation actually changes your brain. Research has shown the multitude of benefits it provides from making you more focused to preserving your vital life energy. A Yale university study found that meditation reduces activity in the “me centre”- default mode network (DMN), the part of the brain that is responsible for worrying about the past, the future and thinking about ourselves, thus making us happier.
13. Keep a routine as best you can. Shower and look after your appearance as much as you would when going into the office. You will feel better, more motivated and it shows your partner you care because you are making the effort to keep the spark alive. For couples that their marriage was under pressure before this, it could be a be a huge struggle or a great opportunity to reconnect, get things back on track and cherish each other again.
“This virus has made everyone in the world realise that in the end love is all that matters. Surely that is one thing that we can thank it for.”