Comedian Jimmy Fallon recently joked, after being confined at home, that he really likes his wife. With many states shuttering all nonessential business as a means to stop the spread of COVID-19, there’s a strong possibility that you are spending more time at home than you ever have. How do you remain sane when your kids may be bouncing off the wall, and most of your usual activities have ground to a halt.
Without being able to go to the gym, watch March Madness, grab a beer at your favorite restaurant or go to the movies, we find ourselves in limbo. The only person that we interact with daily on an adult level is our spouse, who is also stuck at home.
How do you avoid, under confined quarters, annoying the hell out of one another?
The husband and wife team Julie and John Gottman have been studying partners’ conversations for nearly 50 years through their Gottman Institute. The Gottmans found that the most successful marriages and relationships live by constant guidelines. Instead of finding fault, successful couples look at what their partner does correct and “say thank you” dozens of times daily even for the smallest or most routine gestures such as making coffee first thing in the morning. Here’s more of their advice for staying sane and civil when you can’t go out:
Dos and Don’ts
Successful couples do look for beauty and positive traits in their partner and call them out.
Successful couples don’t make criticism or contempt part of their vocabulary.
Successful couples don’t call each other nasty names or roll their eyes and scoff.
Successful do express what they need, rather than what they resent.
Successful couples do compromise fairly.
Successful couples don’t fight about dreams and values that are non-negotiable.
Successful couples do cuddle and touch each other often with affection and not just eroticism.
Advice to Consider
At the end of the day before going to sleep, each partner should discuss the highs and lows of the day and what they are worrying about outside of the family dynamic. Those listening should not try to resolve any of the worries they hear. Instead, ask for more details and demonstrate empathy.
The Gottmans claim that there is no such thing being “too needy” or that “solo self-reliance is the ideal.” In these uncertain and scary times, recognize that we need one another more than ever – especially the person you live with. Let’s cultivate a little more kindness between us.