“By spending as much time as you can together, you can remain connected emotionally, physically, cognitively and spiritually and this connection can deepen as time goes on.” — ACCORD Catholic Marriage Care Service
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” — Bible (James 1:2-4)
Both Bill and Betty were now at home during the daytime – all day. Because of the virus Bill was working online from home. Betty had a part-time job while the kids were in school, but that was temporarily on hold. Schooling for their children both at home and in a local public school was a challenge. Their relationship was definitely being stressed.
Marriage experts Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott suggest some ways to deepen intimacy in your marriage during difficult times. Quoting them: “Difficult times can refine or break your relationship. That’s why it’s so important to stay connected. Through intentional action, it’s possible to deepen your intimacy during hard seasons.”
1. Listen to one another. Communication is always one of the most important ingredients in any relationship. During stressful times, it is vital to take the time to discuss what’s bothering us. It probably isn’t our relationship; it’s what’s happening all around us. This can bring us together in dealing with the issues. It is also an opportunity to discuss what is going well and how we can continue to encourage and support one another.
2. Be patient. With all the distractions, we may not feel like connecting with our spouse. We may come across as aloof and even trying to avoid our spouse. Instead of reacting to the other person’s negative feelings, express empathy and let them know you are ready to listen. Recognize once again that they very likely are not upset with you. It may be your turn to bite your tongue and wait patiently. Don’t stir the waters; let the waves settle down before jumping in again.
3. Practice optimism together. I like this quote from Thomas Carlyle: “Adversity is the diamond dust Heaven polishes its jewels with.” Remember, muscles grow under stress. Also search for the good. Just think – you married the most wonderful person in the world! Rejoice that you get to go through these tough times together. Quoting the Parrotts again: “Optimism is a habit that has to be developed, so jump into the practice with that in mind. It doesn’t mean you’ll never discuss or dwell on the hard times, but it does mean you’ll be investing energy into good things, too.”
4. Pray together frequently. Do it at least daily. At least before meals – and try to get away from rote prayers. Make it a practice to come together daily for devotions, prayer and to discuss what’s happening.
5. Don’t forget to have fun together. Deliberately do some things together that you both enjoy. Shared activities are always a must for any relationship; in hard times they are difficult to schedule but all the more important.
6. Be alone together – even more, if possible. As noted above scheduling such times may be difficult, especially if you have children around. Continuing physical intimacy, both non-sexual touching and sex, can be healing and especially important to reassure that the two have become one no matter what else is happening.
Having said all the above, it is important to recognize that when both husband and wife are home all day (or at least more than normal) the establishment of boundaries may be needed, especially if there are children around. This once again requires communication. Discuss the abnormalities of the current system and agree together what will work best. This obviously requires the willingness to consider the other person’s needs.
During these stressful times it is good to remember and apply the Golden Rule: "In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, …” (Matthew 7:12).