Loving well as you shelter-in-place is going to require a little extra intentionality.
Almost every family is facing a new dynamic as a result of the stay-at-home orders that have affected 90% of the US population. As a result, marriages are dealing with new stresses as couples navigate the uncharted waters of shifting responsibilities, continuous proximity, and fears about the safety of those we love, among other new challenges.
With the new stresses and difficulties, it’s especially important for you to renew your determination to demonstrate love for your spouse on a daily (or maybe hourly) basis. Here are five ways you can love your spouse well while sheltering in.
Give a Little Extra Kindness
Let’s face it, kindness and thoughtfulness are easier when you aren’t forced to be together 24/7. Now more than ever it’s important to practice small acts of kindness. Ask, “What’s one thing I could do for you today that would make your day better or easier?” Especially at this time when grand gestures are out of the question – when even regular date nights out can’t happen – it’s important to find little ways to express love for each other.
Many households are facing added worry and stress these days. Allow each other to voice concerns without judgment or being dismissive. Practice empathetic listening so you each feel heard and understood. You may not both have the same perspective on what constitutes adequate social distancing, whether groceries need to be wiped down, or if it’s necessary to wear a mask when out about. Be a little flexible when it comes to accommodating each other’s concerns.
Long-term sheltering in is hard. Jenni and I sometimes feel a sense of heaviness pressing in on us. We do our best to give encouragement to each other. We pray together. We share our thoughts and feelings with each other. We remind each other of God’s goodness and faithfulness when fear creeps in. It’s important to agree with heaven in these trying times.
I’m a major introvert. Jenni is 100% extrovert. We’re learning to accommodate our many differences while occupying the same space. For me, it might mean some time alone in our room to scroll my phone or working a puzzle while Jenni cooks dinner. It might mean me doing dishes so Jenni can listen to an Audible or make a call to a friend. We are continually having to accommodate each other’s Skype/Teams/Zoom meetings and phone calls in this shared space. Because my office space is in our common living area, Jenni is having to do most of the accomodating. She’s been great about it.
Be Physically Close
It may be counter-intuitive, but you will need to be extra intentional about physical intimacy when you are stuck in the same space all the time. The truth is, however, that it would be easy to pull back and withdraw physical affection when you feel stressed. Or maybe your new circumstances have made you edgy or caused you to feel like you need to fight for your space. If you feel tempted to withdraw, fight it. Physical affection can be expressed in a myriad of small ways: hold hands when you walk together, be generous with hugs and kisses, sit close together while you watch TV, give a neck massage. And it’s especially important not to neglect your sex life during these times.
What other ways have you found helpful in loving well and keeping your connection strong while sheltering in? Share your thoughts in a comment.