TfM Exec Directors, Andy and Fiona share their top tips on looking after your marriage during lockdown.
We have been married for 27 years and working from home for over 10 of those. In the last few years we become empty nesters although currently have our daughter and 5mth old grandson in the house as they are isolating with us so our house has known both busy and quiet moments.
Here’s our tips on what we’ve learnt about keeping our relationship healthy when we’re together for long periods of time.
Talk to each other
This is the most important thing as it helps us understand where each other is at. Asking each other ‘how are you today’ is really important especially right now when it’s a really tough time for most people. We have both struggled with ‘off days’ in the last week where we just didn’t feel great or the enormity of everything overwhelmed us and by letting each other know it helps us support each other and also be a little more understanding. We’re really trying to empathise with each other and ‘get into each other’s shoes’ so we can understand what’s going on.
Give each other space
Believe it or not we don’t want to spend every minute together so firstly we don’t have every single meal together. We will eat supper together each day but not necessarily other meals. That also takes the pressure off if one of you is the cook. In the evenings it’s ok not to sit together every evening. Make sure you’re spending time together but also giving each other space to pursue activities that help you flourish individually.
Don’t let grudges build up
Believe it or not we’re not perfect – we do little things that annoy and irritate each other A LOT. We mess up, we forget stuff that’s important to the other person. Communication helps with this but also forgiveness is so important. We’ve learnt to forgive each other quickly so that we don’t sit stewing in resentment. That way we’re released to crack on rather than the irritations building and erupting which if you’ve got nowhere to go could be messy. We are trying to make conscious decisions each day – e.g. not being cross with each other, not to taking offence etc – or to consciously have a positive outlook on things (even if the reality circumstances around you makes that hard)
Be kind to each other
Above all else kindness outweighs everything. Every morning Andy makes Fi a cup of tea. He isn’t making himself one as he’s generally going for a run. Ok so he knows that Fi won’t really function until she’s had a cup of tea, but he also knows that Fi could make it herself and chooses to make it for her anyway. Kindness is also in what we say to each other. Proverbs 18 verse 21 that says ‘Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.’ And it’s that choice when we’re in close proximity and one of us is very irritating. What are we going to choose – to put down or build up? It’s hard but it’s so important that we actively choose to be kind, encourage and build each other up. This brings life in a season where we might be feeling wobbly or vulnerable.
Have fun together
Fun is one of our love languages and if we’re not having fun together it’s usually a sign that things are not so great. In this season it’s really hard to carve out time for fun but it’s important to pursue it. Spontaneity is often fun like a cheeky G&T on a weeknight or maybe upgrading the cup of tea to a hot chocolate with all the trimmings. But planning a date night is important too as is thinking creatively. My parents dressed up to watch Pride & Prejudice and had a sleepover in the spare room the other night. I love the idea of thinking outside the box. What does fun look like for you right now and could you schedule in some time to do something fun?
Here’s some ideas:
- Attempt a complicated jigsaw together
- Take up a new sport together
- Learn a new DIY skill
- Use your daily exercise to explore the area – find roads that you’ve never been down before.
- Try Alphabet dating – take it in turns to each pick an activity beginning each letter of the alphabet or you could try alphabet dining – take it in turns to cook a meal beginning with each letter of the alphabet.
If you’re really struggling, please do use our contact form to get in touch.
Andy & Fiona Banes