Everyone is walking through the COVID-19 shutdown in different ways. For most of us, these are unprecedented times. Several nights I’ve fallen asleep wondering if I’ll wake up the next morning and find this was all a bad dream. I’ll also confess that many nights this was my prayer before drifted off to sleep.
Increased isolation, pressures of home school, an erratic economy, and financial challenges at work are plaguing most families. Millions filed for unemployment last week and many of us are grieving loss due to the Coronavirus.
As the struggles keep coming, our marriages are being challenged in new and unique ways. This post wraps up a 2-part series on how we can protect and grow our marriages during a pandemic.
1. Have some fun and play together.
With all the heaviness around us, how can we possibly have fun right now? Believe it or not, it is in these moments where we still need fun and laughter, maybe more than ever.
Ecclesiastes 9:9a says, “Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love.” We need to learn to have more fun together in marriage. Yes, marriage will be challenging. In fact, the only promise about marriage in the Bible says that if you do marry you will have trouble in this life (1 Corinthians 7:28). But, thankfully, it’s not all misery and trouble!
Especially during a season like this one, we need to prioritize having fun together with our spouse. Avoid constantly talking about the tough stuff. Do the things you did in the beginning (Revelation 2:4). Remember when you intentionally pursued each before you got engaged? You were fun, creative, and selfless in how you spent your time. That doesn’t have to be a thing of the past. You are free to begin that again!
Cook a meal together or go for a daily walk. Read a book together and discuss what you learn. Grab take-out dinner from a new restaurant. We know these options might not be as romantic as a fancy date night, but try to make the most of the opportunity and do something fun together.
Challenge: What’s one new, fun activity you can do with your spouse? Is it a puzzle or new game? A daily walk around the block? Regardless of what you decide to do, put your phones aside and have some fun.
2. Don’t isolate.
We’re all learning new ways to engage with others during this pandemic. Whether we Zoom, Skype, Facetime, Jitsi, Hangout, Vox, Marco Polo, or go old school and talk to someone on the phone (GASP!), we still need time with friends.
We are so encouraged by the ways we’ve seen community groups across Watermark connect online. We’ve been reminded that we need others—it is not good for man (and woman) to be alone (Genesis 2:18). Many of us now have evenings open as kid’s games and school concerts are cancelled. Make it a priority to connect with other couples in your life.
When you connect, share how you’re doing and invite others in to help bear your burdens (Galatians 6:2). We must not cease to sharpen and wound one another (Proverbs 27:17, 27:6). And we all need encouragement, every single day (Hebrews 3:13).
If you’re struggling, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the re|engage team (email@example.com) at Watermark or go to marriagehelp.org if you live outside of the DFW metroplex.
Challenge: Reach out to another couple today and schedule a time to “meet” online. Text some friends and thank them for your friendship.
3. Take good care of yourself (and your spouse).
One of the biggest challenges I’m facing (and I know I’m not alone) is dealing with so much time stuck inside the house. When we choose to protect ourselves and others by social distancing, we miss out on things like time at the gym, walks around the grocery store, and other social activities. Instead, we stay in our homes all day long. While this practice is highly recommended and cares for those at risk, it can take a physical toll.
The pantry and fridge are now only a few feet away. And unless we are intentional with our choices to work out at home, we’re not getting our steps like we used to. When we don’t take good care of ourselves, it affects everything about us, including our marriage. Here are a few suggestions to caring for yourself during a pandemic:
- Exercise. The weather is beautiful these days. Get outside and go for a long walk or run by yourself, with your spouse (yes, that can count as a date), or with your family. Use the time to catch up on your day or to pray together.
- Eat healthy. One thing I’ve love about being at home is that we’re cooking meals together and we are more conscious of what we’re eating. We can make our own healthy decisions about food.
- Get some more sleep. For most of us, we don’t have the excuse of being too busy to get extra sleep. I’ve enjoyed going to bed a little bit earlier and sleeping a bit later.
None of these suggestions are rocket science, but when we exercise, eat well, and sleep, we’re taking better care of ourselves. This will affect the way we interact with our spouse. The body of Christ doesn’t talk about this topic enough. Steward your body well (1 Corinthians 6:19) and it will help you grow your marriage.
Challenge: Go for a walk tonight with your spouse. Consider bringing the kids (if you have them), walk your furry child (if you have a dog), or make it a date.
4. Keep it real with your spouse.
Let’s all acknowledge this is just really, really hard. In general, life is filled with disappointment, unmet expectations, and brokenness. In marriage, even more so. When God brings two sinners together and they become one flesh, it’s the perfect recipe for challenges.
Now we add Coronavirus on top of it and things seem even more difficult. In different ways, we’re all grieving right now. While some of us are enjoying a slower pace in the evenings and weekends, we all see the news. We likely know friends or family who have lost jobs, are serving in the frontlines on the medical field, or who have already been diagnosed with COVID-19. These are scary, challenging, turbulent days.
If you’re married, God has gifted you a lifelong companion in the ups and downs of life. In Genesis 2:25 we see Adam and Eve together, naked, and without shame. You and your spouse should be able to be together, naked, and without shame, whether you’re completely naked or fully clothed. So keep it real. Pray together, confess when you fall short, celebrate the wins, and be intimate in every way (spiritually, emotionally, relationally, and physically).
Challenge: Share one way you’re grieving and one thing you’re thankful for with your spouse.
In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Brad Wilcox (Director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia and a senior fellow of the Institute for Family Studies) wrote about two types of marriage.
Most Americans subscribe to a “soul mate model” of marriage where feelings form the foundation of marriage. This form of marriage is often selfish and is based upon emotions like happiness. Once the loving feelings go away and our spouse lets us down, so goes the marriage.
The other form of marriage doesn’t ignore feelings but is based on much more than emotions. In this model of marriage, husbands and wives learn to put others first and realize the gift their spouse is. This type of marriage will thrive in spite of any present-day challenges.
When we get to the other side of this pandemic, chances are many marriages around us will crumble. Our hope is that you choose a different path that leads to growth and commitment. We care about your marriage at Watermark. We’re praying that this unique season will help grow your love for the Lord and for your spouse.