7 Ways To Help Your Marriage Survive The Coronavirus

7 Ways To Help Your Marriage Survive The Coronavirus

As everyone adjusts to spending more time at home, marriages are being impacted. While it might initially be nice to spend time with your spouse, with no end in sight, it can eventually become challenging. In order to keep the current situation from having a negative impact on your relationship, adjustments will be needed. Below are some things you can try to help your marriage survive the coronavirus.

1. Discuss Expectations

During this time, schedules may be very different than what you are used to. It will be important to be clear about your needs and expectations. Expectations surrounding extra chores, childcare, work, personal needs, couple time, and family time should be discussed. When you don’t talk about these things, you may feel you are doing most of the work, and your spouse can feel the same way, which can lead to resentment. Talking about these things can allow you to come up with a schedule and plan that works for both of you and takes everyone’s needs into consideration, which is good for your marriage. With everyone home all of the time now, there is probably more cooking, cleaning, and other chores to manage. It is easy to let these extra tasks become a point of contention if you don’t share your needs and expectations with your partner. By discussing these things, stating your needs, and coming up with workable solutions, you can keep your relationship and household running smoothly.

2. Create Boundaries

Since isolating with your partner is a new experience, you will need to create some boundaries so your marriage can survive. If you are both working from home, it will be important to clearly define your work needs. For instance, if you have a conference call from 10-12, you can let your spouse know that you will need privacy during this time. If they need something, you will not be able to respond until after 12. For a boundary to be effective, you must clearly state what you expect as well as the consequences for breaking the boundary. Boundaries help your marriage remain strong as you are clear with your needs. As everyone adjusts to the situation, it will become clear where boundaries are needed in order to keep the peace.

3. Discuss Worries

Being able to lean on your partner during times of trouble can help you safe and secure in your marriage. When you share your worries and concerns with your spouse, they are less likely to come out in other ways. While it is normal to be a little short-tempered during times of uncertainty, being more direct about your concerns can keep you from picking fights over small things. You may be experiencing many fears about the coronavirus. Worries related to getting sick, caring for sick family members, financial concerns, job security, and when things will return to normal, may be on your mind. Keeping these things to yourself can increase anxiety related to the coronavirus. Having open discussions with your partner provides a safe environment to share your worries and talk about your concerns. When you feel you can turn to your partner, you will probably feel closer to them.

4. Spend Time Together

While you might feel as though you spend all of your time with your spouse these days, it is still important to spend quality time together. Plan time to spend together and be intentional with what you will do during that time. Make sure you let your partner know when you would like to spend time with them and what you want to do during that time. You can plan a date night in. Cooking dinner together, playing a game, or discussing future plans and dreams are some ways to spend time together. Don’t forget about emotional and sexual intimacy, which are important for a healthy marriage. Touch and affection can lower anxiety and help keep your connection strong. 

5. Spend Time Alone

Although spending time together is important, so is spending time alone. Too much togetherness can be hard on your relationship. Make sure you are each spending time alone as well. Alone time is for working on your individual hobbies and interests. It’s time for you to relax and recharge. You can use this time to process your feelings, fears and concerns individually. This gives you time away from each other and away from work where you are focused on your individual needs and wants. When you have time alone to focus on yourself, you will be more likely to enjoy the time you and your spouse spend together.

6. Fight Fair

Disagreements and fights with your spouse are bound to occur with all of the forced togetherness, uncertainty and fear. When an argument does happen, it’s important to fight fair. In order to fight fair, you want to make sure you stick to the current topic and not bring up things from the past. Use effective communication skills. This means you use “I” statements, your partner reflects back what they hear you say, and you have a chance to clarify if needed. Agree to take a time out if things become too heated, or if name calling or belittling occurs. When you take a time out and separate for a while to calm down, make sure you state a time when you will come back and try again. This way your partner knows that what they have to say is important to you, they just need to adjust how they are saying it.

7. Practice Compassion And Repair

When you argue or disagree with your partner, it’s important to practice compassion and repair so healing can take place. Trying to understand the situation from your partner’s perspective is a good way to practice compassion. You can do things that you know cheer up your partner to help them feel better. Repair is about making things okay between the two of you, even if you are agreeing to disagree. Empathizing with your spouse lets them know that you understand their point of view. A heartfelt apology when needed, given verbally or through actions can help restore the peace. Making up after an argument can help you feel closer to each other.

If the coronavirus quarantine is having a negative impact on your relationship, try the above tips. Couples counseling, either virtually or in person can help if you continue to struggle. Although the current situation can be challenging, with some adjustments your marriage can survive.

6 Tips To Help You Speak Up In Your Relationship

6 Tips To Help You Speak Up In Your Relationship

Sharing things that are upsetting or often lead to conflict in your relationship can be hard. If you are uncomfortable with conflict, you may decide to keep these things to yourself. However, doing this can have a negative impact on your couple intimacy. Although it may not be easy, saying what you need to say, even if it may lead to conflict, is important for a healthy relationship. If you struggle with this, the following tips might make it easier for you to speak up in your relationship.

What Happens When You Don’t Speak Up

When you don’t speak up in your relationship, your couple connection and intimacy can suffer. Bottling up your feelings and needs, can lead to resentment and loneliness in your relationship. Maybe you don’t fight, but it is probably difficult for you to feel known and understood by your partner as well. Your connection can begin to feel superficial. Denying your feelings and needs can lead to an internal struggle that can weaken your self-esteem and lead to symptoms of anxiety and depression. 

Why It Can Be Hard To Speak Up

It can be hard to speak up about things that might be bothering you in your relationship. One of the reasons that this might be true, is you may be afraid it will lead to a fight. Although conflict can be good for your relationship and even bring you closer together, it can trigger fears of abandonment. You may have a fear that fighting with your partner will lead to the end of your relationship. Therefore, you might feel as though you have to bite your tongue and keep everything pleasant. The problem with this is that you could end up resenting your partner and feeling disconnected. In order to have a healthy intimate connection, you need to be able to say what’s on your mind. This is true, even if it causes an argument. There are some things you can do to help you speak up in your relationship, even if you are afraid it might lead to conflict.

1. Know Yourself

In order to speak up and say what you need to say in your relationship, you need to know yourself and what’s important to you. Spend time feeling your feelings. Notice your fears and what happens just before you shut down. Be aware of certain triggers that cause you to feel uncomfortable and keep you from speaking up. Write out what you need, why it’s important to you, why it’s hard for you to share, and what makes it easier for you to speak up. When you are clear with what you need to say and why you need to say it, you can devise a plan for how you are going to do it.

2. Know What To Let Go

While it is important to speak up when something is bothering you, it is also helpful to let some things go. Sometimes, if you have been holding back instead of speaking up, you might notice that everything starts to bother you. You want to determine if what is bothering you is something that you need to bring up, or something you can let go. To help you decide this, figure out if it bothers you if others do it, or only when your partner does it. Also, consider if this is an issue your partner needs to change, or if it is your issue. When you can let the unimportant things go, it can be easier to identify the important things that you do need to bring up.

3. Talk About The Little Things

Talk to your partner about the things that are easier for you to discuss. Usually, these are things about your day that have nothing to do with your partner. This helps foster a connection so you will be more comfortable bringing up the things that might lead to conflict. When it is hard for you to speak up for yourself in your relationship, you might start pulling away and stop talking about the unimportant things as well. If you feel disconnected from your partner, it is usually harder to seek them out for conversation. When conversation becomes a habit in your relationship, it will be easier to bring up the things that are bothering you.

4. Have Clear Boundaries

Having clear boundaries with yourself and your partner can make arguments easier to manage. For yourself, have a goal in mind. If you know you need to discuss something your partner said that hurt you, figure out what you want to accomplish. Are you bringing it up so they will be aware it hurts you? Do you want them to stop saying it? With your partner, you can determine when it is hard for you to discuss things and what makes it easier. For example, if you shut down when your partner yells, you may need a boundary around this. Let them know what you need from them and why. If they yell when you are trying to share what is bothering you, give them a warning the first time and walk away for awhile the second time. Let them know when you will come back and try again. When you have boundaries in place, it can make it easier for you to share what is bothering you.

5. Pick A Good Time

Timing can be very important when you need to talk about something that is hard for you. If you try to have this discussion at an inconvenient time, you may not feel heard by your partner. This might make it hard for you to bring up other things that bother you and can cause you to shut down further. If your partner is busy with something, or has other plans, it might not be a good time to talk. Ask your partner if it is a good time to talk. If it isn’t, you can agree on a time that works better. When you know that you will have your partner’s undivided attention, it can be easier for you to speak up.

6. Use Effective Communication Skills

Effective communication skills can help you feel more comfortable sharing with your partner. Use “I” statements instead of “you” statements. When you use “you” statements, your partner can become defensive and it will be hard for them to truly listen to you. When your partner speaks, reflect back what you hear them say. Ask them to do this after you speak as well. This is about active listening. If you are listening so that you can reflect back what they are trying to say, you cannot be focused on preparing your response. After you hear their reflection, you can clarify your message to make sure they understand your position.

Speaking up in your relationship helps foster a deeper bond. If you tried these tips and notice you are still avoiding conflict with your partner, couples counseling can help. When you are able to openly share with your partner, the intimacy in your relationship and your overall well-being can improve. 

How Avoiding Conflict Can Cause Problems In Your Relationship

How Avoiding Conflict Can Cause Problems In Your Relationship

Arguments in relationships are normal. When you are able to work through conflict together, intimacy can deepen. However, when you or your partner handle conflict by avoiding it altogether, your relationship can suffer. Although things may seem fine on the surface, anger, resentment, and bitterness can be brewing underneath. In fact, avoiding conflict can cause many problems in your relationship and can weaken your couple connection.

What Is Relationship Conflict

Relationship conflict refers to a disagreement, argument, or debate that takes place between two people within a relationship. Relationship conflict highlights basic differences between you and your partner. It is a normal part of a relationship. When two people with different backgrounds, beliefs, ideas, wants and desires come together, conflict is bound to occur. Conflict has a negative connotation, but can actually be quite healthy for your relationship. However, fighting with your partner can be uncomfortable for some. In order to avoid an emotional response, you might instead avoid conflict altogether.

What Is Conflict Avoidance

Conflict avoidance refers to a way of addressing a disagreement or problem by intentionally not dealing with it. One of the most common ways of avoiding conflict is to ignore the problem. By ignoring the problem and not discussing it, you don’t have to deal with the outcome. Another way to avoid conflict is to change the subject. When your partner is discussing something that upsets them, you start discussing something bothering you instead. This is a way of deflecting your partner’s concerns. Stonewalling, or shutting down, also helps you avoid conflict. When you stonewall, you might remove yourself from the situation every time an uncomfortable topic is brought up. You could also simply refuse to respond to your partner. Doing this can help you avoid uncomfortable topics, but can seem very dismissive to your partner.

Why Conflict Is Avoided

Reasons that you might avoid conflict can vary. At the beginning of a relationship, you might feel that if you have a fight, your relationship will end. You might decide to remain silent to avoid possible disagreements. For many, conflict is seen as bad. You might be afraid that you will hurt your partner, or that conflict will lead to more problems. There can be a fear of not being liked by your partner, so you hide your true feelings. Perhaps, you never witnessed healthy conflict and resolution when you were a child. If you experienced childhood abuse, you may even fear conflict. This fear can lead to a belief that conflict is dangerous and must be avoided. However, avoiding conflict can lead to problems in your relationship that can be difficult to overcome.

A Pursuer/Distancer Dynamic Can Develop

If you avoid conflict, your partner might try to get you to respond to them by pursuing you more. In response, you could end up becoming even more distant. This sets up an unhealthy relationship dynamic. The more you withdraw, the more your partner chases. However, the anxiety this causes in each of you can actually perpetuate the cycle. Instead of bringing you closer, this relationship dynamic creates distance that can be hard to understand and address.

Resentment Can Build

Resentment is the bitterness and anger you feel as a result of perceived mistreatment. When your partner never wants to discuss the things that are bothering you, the issues can’t be resolved. Over time, this can lead to resentment. Resentment can occur when our feel your needs aren’t being met. It can be difficult for you to have empathy for your partner when you think they don’t understand you. You may begin to feel as though they don’t really care about you or your feelings. It is hard to even attempt to meet each other’s needs when you are not discussing your needs. When resentment builds up, you notice all the ways your partner is disappointing you. If it continues to build, it can eventually lead to an explosion, or even contempt. 

Intimacy Can Weaken

Intimacy is about having a deep connection with your partner. When you feel like you can share your wants, needs, and concerns, intimacy is strengthened. Keeping things pleasant on the surface, but being unable to discuss what bothers you, can erode your couple intimacy. When you feel as though can’t talk to your partner, intimacy suffers. You can begin to feel distant from one another. This can affect all aspects of your relationship. If you don’t feel deeply bonded, your sex life and couple connection can begin to erode. 

Communication Problems Can Occur

When you don’t talk to your partner about what is bothering you, it can be difficult to talk in general. Discussing superficial topics can become strained and difficult as bottled up feelings and resentment eventually need an outlet. Instead of just avoiding conflict, you might end up avoiding your partner altogether. Tension lying just beneath the surface can be strongly felt. Superficial conversation can begin to feel meaningless, and you might avoid communicating with your partner at all.

Feelings Of Loneliness Can Increase

Everyone longs to feel heard and understood. The more you avoid conflict, the less heard and understood you begin to feel. You might begin to believe that your relationship is lacking meaningful connection. The more distant you feel, the more distance can build. When you do not feel safe sharing things with your partner, you could start to feel lonely. You could keep things bottled up so it doesn’t lead to conflict. The fear of facing conflict and being vulnerable in your relationship can actually increase feelings of loneliness.

These are just some of the ways that avoiding conflict can affect your relationship. If you notice that your relationship is suffering because you or your partner avoid conflict, couples counseling can help. When you are able to address conflict, instead of avoiding it, your couple connection can strengthen.

How To Avoid The Parent-Child Relationship Dynamic With Your Spouse

How To Avoid The Parent-Child Relationship Dynamic With Your Spouse

When you have an adult relationship, you probably expect to relate to each other as equals. However, when one partner takes on the majority of the responsibility, a parent-child relationship dynamic can develop. If this dynamic continues, it can decrease your relationship satisfaction and emotional well-being. Understanding the parent-child relationship dynamic can help you break the pattern and establish a more equal partnership.

The Parent-Child Dynamic

The parent-child relationship dynamic occurs when one person in a romantic relationship takes on the role of the parent, and their partner takes on the role of the child. There are a number of reasons why this dynamic could develop between a couple. However, this sets up a power dynamic that is unequal. This type of relationship dynamic can lead to resentment and discontent. The parent takes charge and makes the rules. This causes a type of codependency that might work until the child decides to rebel, or the parent becomes too resentful.

In this relationship dynamic, the person who takes on the role of the parent can vary depending on the situation. For example, the husband can take on the role of the parent and the wife the child with finances and the roles can reverse with the household chores. Both the parent and the child can end up resenting the other for being too bossy, or not helping out enough. This can lead to a breakdown in communication and intimacy. In this dynamic, the parent will ask the child to complete a task and follow up to see if it was done. The child often will not complete the task on purpose, and the dynamic continues.

The Parent-Partner Role

The partner that takes on the role of the parent is often a natural nurturer. They enjoy taking care of others and can show their love by doing this. However, they can also be somewhat controlling and believe that there is only one right way to complete a task. The parent partner can be more demanding, act superior, and even become a disciplinarian in their primary relationship. It is easy for them to view their partner as someone that needs to be taken care of because they are irresponsible, helpless, or incompetent. They have a hard time respecting their partner’s boundaries or trusting them to do the right thing. Someone in the parent role might have a more anxious attachment style and could have difficulty directly confronting irresponsible behavior and setting appropriate boundaries. Overtime, they can build up resentment toward their partner for not contributing as much to the relationship.

The Child-Partner Role

The partner that takes on the role of the child often takes on a more passive role. They might even enjoy being taken care of in the beginning of the relationship. Interests and hobbies outside of the partnership can take up a lot of their time and attention. They may feel disrespected by their partner and can begin to withdraw from the relationship. It is difficult for them to establish firm boundaries and they may resort to passive-aggressive behaviors to get their way. Someone in the child role could have a more avoidant attachment style and might withdraw from conflict and their partner. They could feel victimized by their partner, but could also rely on them and feel somewhat helpless in the relationship. The child partner can end up resenting the parent partner for their overinvolvement and can resent their advice and act out either overtly or covertly.

The Attraction

The parent-child dynamic can be comforting initially. For the child partner, it can be flattering to be given so much attention. While for the parent partner, they are able to nurture someone who seems appreciative. Both partners may have witnessed this type of interaction in their family of origin. Therefore, they may each believe that this dynamic is a normal way of relating. The partner that takes on the child role can feel cared for, while the one that takes on the parent role can feel needed. Parent partners can control their environment and spend a lot of energy on their relationship, and child partners can focus on their interests outside of their relationship. Problems develop overtime as the inequality in this dynamic becomes glaring and leads to resentment from both partners.

Changing The Dynamic

The parent-child dynamic in relationships can be toxic and can erode effective communication and intimacy. If you find that your relationship fits this pattern, it will be important to change the dynamic and create a more peer based relationship. This type of relationship requires both partners to equally contribute to the relationship and make decisions jointly. Both the parent partner and the child partner will need to communicate more overtly and establish effective boundaries to break the pattern. This requires give and take from each partner. The parent partner will need to relinquish some control and rely more on their partner. Likewise, the child partner will need to take on more responsibility and put more effort into the relationship.

What The Parent-Partner Can Do

The partner in the parenting role can allow their spouse to contribute in their own way. This requires the parent to stop being so controlling. You may have anxiety about things getting done or of everything falling apart, but building trust in your partner is essential. To do this, it’s important to back off and let your partner do things their way. Ask your partner for their input. Let them gain some control. Making a list of what needs to be done and jointly deciding who will do what is one way to establish more equality. It is helpful to be open to your partner’s ideas and input, even if it is quite different from your own. Being more overt about your needs can keep resentment from building and increase your emotional intimacy. When you can be more vulnerable with your partner, you can deepen your connection.

What The Child-Partner Can Do

The partner in the child role can take on a more active role in the relationship. Set firm boundaries around the way you expect to be treated. If your spouse is talking down to you or scolding you, let them know that it is not okay. Agree to tasks that you can complete, and follow through. Instead of engaging in passive-aggressive behaviors to get your way, you can be direct. Let your partner know that the relationship is important and you are there for them. Support your partner when they are struggling and listen to them. Come together as a team and make joint decisions about your relationship and running the household. 

If you notice the parent-child dynamic in your relationship, couples counseling can help. Once you understand the pattern, you can take steps to create a more equal partnership. This can help improve your intimacy and overall relationship satisfaction. 

Date Night Ideas To Strengthen Your Relationship

Date Night Ideas To Strengthen Your Relationship

Spending time together as a couple away from other distractions is good for your relationship. Date nights can help you increase your intimacy, passion, and couple connection. When life gets hectic and work, children, and other commitments demand more of your time, you might be tempted to stop going on date nights. However, making a commitment with your spouse to go on regular date nights together can help keep your relationship strong.

Why Go On Dates

Committing to regular date nights can strengthen your relationship and can help deepen your emotional intimacy. Over time, it can be easy to fall into a routine in your daily life and your relationship. Work, kids, and social engagements can keep you quite busy. It might seem as though most of your conversations are about your schedules. While this can be common in relationships, you could begin to take your partner for granted. In order to keep your relationship strong, you need to spend time focusing on each other. When you agree to weekly date nights, you know you will have a set time to work on your marriage and communication and keep your connection strong. Below are some date night ideas to get you started.

Establish Ground Rules

To make sure that your date night gets off to a good start, you will want to establish some ground rules. For instance, if most of your conversations revolve around your children, you can make a pact not to discuss the kids on your date. You could do this with any topic that you discuss often or that you fight about. This will force you to switch up the conversation. It will be helpful to decide who is going to plan the date, who will get the sitter, and who will make the reservations. Taking turns with these tasks is always a good option. You can establish rules around phone use, checking on the kids, and anything else that could interfere with the success of your date. Making these decisions upfront can help your date night run smoothly.

Keep It Simple

Your date night plans do not have to be elaborate. A picnic at the beach, a walk around the lake, or simply cooking a meal together can give you enough couple time to keep your connection strong. What you do together isn’t as important as your intention. Keep the focus on each other. Ask each other questions, and talk about your hopes, fears, and dreams. A simple date with your spouse can be quite magical and can help you maintain a loving relationship.

Go Out

Go out with your partner. Every now and then it’s nice to have a change of scenery. Plan a night out with your spouse. You can dress up and go to your favorite restaurant, go to a sporting event or concert, or visit a local museum. When you spend time with your partner doing things you love, it helps deepen your bond. It’s easier to take a break from your everyday worries and concerns and focus on each other when you plan a fun outing. Making an effort to go out together and do something you enjoy can help keep your relationship healthy.

Stay Home

While going out for date nights is important, staying home together can be just as beneficial. If you have a newborn, or time or financial constraints, you can have a date night at home. Put the kids to bed early or have a relative watch them and slow dance in the kitchen, watch a movie, or give your partner a massage. Talk to each other, and make sure to listen too. Who knows, you might even learn something new about your spouse. With a little effort, you can make your date night in just as enjoyable as your date night out.

Learn Something

Plan an educational date where you can both learn something. Learning something with your partner engages your brain in a different way that can be invigorating. You could take a cooking class, dance class, or a self-defense class together. Learning new things requires vulnerability. Being vulnerable with each other facilitates a deeper level of bonding. When you actively learn something new and fun, you can also feel closer to your partner. An engaging educational date can strengthen your connection as you stimulate your mind.

Try Something New

On your date night, get out of your comfort zone and try something new. Doing new things helps break the routine. This could be something as simple as trying a new restaurant, or something a little more daring like facing your fear of heights, with your partner by your side of course. You don’t want your date night to simply become another routine. When you are willing to switch things up and try something new, at least some of the time, your date nights will be more interesting and less predictable. If you try something new with your partner, you will most likely associate the challenge and fun you had with being with your partner. This can be helpful in any long term relationship.

Recreate Something Special

It is always good to try something new, but remembering a special time you experienced can be also be a great way to reconnect. Recreating a special time in your past can help rekindle the positive emotions associated with that time. A little nostalgia can be quite romantic and good for your relationship. Recreating your first date or another special time can help you reminisce about the good you’ve experienced together. This enables you to feel those feelings all over again. Sharing these positive feelings again can enhance your bond.

These are just some of the ways you can use date nights to strengthen your relationship. If you are struggling to connect with your partner, couples counseling can help. Focusing on your relationship by making date nights a priority can help keep your relationship strong and healthy.

6 Ways To Support Your Marriage When Your Spouse Has A Mental Illness

6 Ways To Support Your Marriage When Your Spouse Has A Mental Illness

Mental illness can be hard on couples. If your spouse is diagnosed with a mental illness, your relationship can begin to feel like it exists solely to manage the illness. The stress involved can reach a crisis level. Although having a spouse with a mental illness can be difficult at times, it is possible to maintain a healthy and happy marriage.

Living With Someone With A Mental Illness

When your partner is diagnosed with a mental illness such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or major depression, it can be hard on your relationship. Your spouse might require more help, and may not be able to manage the same tasks as before. It could be hard to take care of your own obligations, while also taking on your partner’s responsibilities. This can cause resentment. The unpredictable nature of their illness can be difficult to deal with. You may be afraid of what the future will hold. The fear, worry, and added strain can cause problems with your own physical and mental health. You may see your spouse as a child that needs to be cared for and could feel quite alone. Although it can be challenging when your spouse has a mental illness, there are some things you can do to help your relationship not only survive, but also thrive.

1. Educate Yourself

Learn everything you can about the mental illness that your spouse is experiencing. It can be easier to separate who your partner is from the mental illness they are dealing with when you are aware of the symptoms of their illness. This can help you work together as a team fighting the illness, instead of fighting against your partner. When you understand their illness, it can help you be more aware of some of the subtle changes that can occur. This way you can seek help in the early stages of a relapse. Educating yourself on the illness helps you prepare for the expected changes and take charge of the things within your control. Knowing what to expect can help you manage the situation more effectively.

2. Have Strong Boundaries

While it is normal to want to help your spouse, and you may need to take on extra responsibilities, having strong boundaries can keep you from enabling them. Having strong boundaries requires you to know yourself, your capabilities, and your limits. If you overcompensate for your partner, make excuses for them, or take on everything yourself, you could end up resenting them. You have limits, needs, and expectations that need to be honored by having firm boundaries. For instance, you can have a boundary around them managing their illness by taking their prescribed medications and attending their therapy appointments. A consequence for not taking their medication as prescribed could be that they have to take it in front of someone. Boundaries are for you, not for the other person. If your partner stops taking their medication, they could suffer a major relapse which could have a negative impact on you. 

3. Practice Self-Care

To be able to deal with the added responsibilities surrounding your partner’s mental illness, you need to take care of yourself. Make time for yourself and do the things that you enjoy. Eat well-balanced healthy meals. Exercise regularly. Get enough sleep. Spend time with friends and family. Practice meditation and mindfulness and take care of your spiritual needs. Do things that bring you joy, comfort you, and relax or energize you. If you neglect self-care, your own physical and mental health can suffer and you could experience caregiver burnout. When you take time out of your day to attend to your emotional and physical well-being, you will have more to give your spouse. 

4. Communicate With Your Spouse

When your spouse has a mental illness, you may spend a lot of time biting your tongue so you don’t say something that will make things worse. However, not sharing your experience, concerns, and even your frustrations, can lead to feelings of loneliness and disconnection. Externalizing the illness and sharing how it’s impacting each of you, can bring you closer together. This way you can band together to fight the negative impact of your common enemy. When you don’t discuss these things, you could build up resentment that can come out as bitterness, anger, or even contempt. Keeping the lines of communication open will keep your relationship strong, even in the midst of a mental illness.

5. Get Support

When your spouse is struggling with a mental illness, they may not be able to do all of the things that they were able to do before. Although you may be able to handle some of the added responsibilities on your own, asking others for help can make things a lot easier. You can ask your family, friends, and even your community to help you out. Make a list of the things that you need help with and see who is able to help and when. Join a support group. Reach out to your church. Or, ask your neighbors for help. When you ask others for help, you are less likely to feel overwhelmed and better able to care for your loved ones, and yourself.

6. Get Professional Help

Your spouse may not be the only one that can benefit from counseling. It may also be helpful for you. Therapy can provide a safe space for you to process your feelings about your situation in a healthy way. You could also learn effective coping strategies in therapy. Couples counseling can help keep the focus on your relationship. By actively working on your relationship, you can learn ways to effectively manage the more difficult stages of the illness as a team. The added support that you receive for yourself and your relationship can help both you and your marriage remain strong and healthy.

Although having a spouse with a mental illness can be challenging, it does not have to destroy your marriage. With help and support, you can manage the reality of your situation effectively and grow closer to each other. Working together, your marriage can strengthen and thrive.

COVID-19 Update

In response to the current coronavirus threat, online/virtual appointments are now available.