According to the Gottman Institute, couples that manage stress well fair better than couples who do not. How you handle the pandemic and the stay at home mandate is the difference between feeling like a team vs feeling like roommates who share space. When we are feeling out of control, it helps to focus on what we can control. You control if you tune into your spouse. You control if you listen to understand when your spouse is sharing a concern or complaint. If your partner feels you are tuned into them, it helps reduce their stress and makes them feel emotionally secure. There are three things you can tune into that will make a big difference: Respect, Responsiveness, and Rituals.
Showing respect is conveyed by attitude, tone of voice, listening, and valuing your partner’s thoughts and feelings even if you do not agree with them. It means tuning in to what your spouse needs to feel safe and secure and making that a priority. Treat your spouse the way you prefer to be treated. Take responsibility for your own behavior and how it impacts your spouse. Disrespect is shown by yelling, being dismissive, name calling, listening to respond, and ignoring your partner.
Responsiveness is about being intentional to interacting with your spouse in connecting ways. Speak their love language consistently. If you do not know their love language, take the online test and ask them what behaviors would make them feel the most loved and valued. If you ask a question, listen to their answer. Ask open-ended questions and listen to the answer. Validate their thoughts and feelings even if they are different from yours. You choose whether to be a sense of safety for them in an unsafe world or be dismissive. Examples of being responsive are:
- How are you doing?
- I don’t know how you do it all right now.
- I would feel that way too.
- I am here no matter what.
- We will get through this together.
- This really is so hard.
- What can I do to help you?
Rituals of connection are always important but have even more importance during stressful times as they help you feel grounded in your relationship. This helps with the sense of we or us. Keep up hello and goodbye rituals no matter how your schedules are off right now or even if you are irritated with one another. Try to eat dinner together most nights. Watch your favorite show together. Look for opportunities to have Date Nights at home. Look for my Date Nights at home list on my next post.