All of us face stressful seasons in life. But lately, things have seemed especially challenging for just about everyone. World conflict, financial and economic uncertainty, health and safety concerns. Whether directly or indirectly, these problems are impacting lives throughout the world.
It’s times like these that our relationships become all the more essential. We lean on each other for comfort, empathy, information, and even humor. The comfort of knowing your partner will give you unconditional support, even during rough times, is truly one of the greatest gifts that marriage can give. The unique sense of lightness and peace that comes with deep camaraderie, trust, and understanding from another person is so powerful. But it’s easy to accidentally start leaning away if you’re under a lot of stress or fear you’re “dumping” your feelings on your partner.
If you and your spouse have been feeling the stress of our times recently, here are a few things you can do to shore up your marriage and find a safe haven for restoration in each other.
Protect Each Other’s Energy
As a couple, you have control over what you allow into your shared spaces, including your physical and energetic spaces. Agree to create healthy boundaries that protect your mental and emotional well-beings. Let’s take a look at the following examples.
- Taking a few moments alone to re-center yourself before coming into the house after a long day
- Asking each other if you’d like to see a news update, rather than automatically sharing it with them
- Keeping certain activities mobile phone and “current events-free,” such as dinnertime or in the morning before leaving for work
- Schedule a weekly time to sit down with one another or go for a walk together and talk about how you both feel.
It’s never too late to become a better listener. Start to see interactions with your spouse as an ideal opportunity to hone your listening skills and give your loved one your complete, undivided attention when they need to vent or share something.
While listening to your spouse, watch for the urge to offer advice or immediately relate what they’re saying to your own story or experience. Use phrases like, “What I’m hearing is…” to show them that you want to truly understand what they’re saying. This is the Imago relationship behavioral practice called validation, whereby the listener repeats what their partner says and reiterating that their opinion and feelings matter even if you disagree. After all, there’s nothing wrong with disagreements as long as they are respectful.
Find peace in the simple act of looking directly into their eyes and focusing all your attention on them, even if your spouse is talking about something difficult that makes you uncomfortable. The importance of being fully present with them at these moments can feel incredibly safe and rewarding for both of you.
Is there something you can do for your spouse that would make their day easier, or even just bring a smile to their face? Can you take something off of their plate, figuratively speaking, without being asked?
Make a game out of it! See who can offer the most random acts of kindness. It’s a win-win “competition,” since you’ll both end up coming up with creative ways to show up for each other.