I am so excited to introduce my latest Counselor Thoughts guest blogger, Amanda Davison. Amanda leads the ministry A Wife Like Me. Having been a marriage counselor for over 20 years, we are always looking for great resources to support clients who are trying to make the marriage better. Below Amanda shares five tips for making marriage better while sheltering in a home with little opportunity for escape.
How have you survived marriage well during COVID-19? We are giving away a free copy of this book so make sure you subscribe to my email list, comment below or comment on my Facebook page.
If there is ever a time to boost your marriage, it’s now. Whether you’re finding this pandemic a gift to your marriage or tensions are running higher than ever, today is the day to intentionally invest in your marriage.
Here are 5 unlikely marriage tips to maximize your marriage during COVID-19:
SET SOME NEW RULES
The same rules simply do not apply during this pandemic. Most things have been flipped upside down and whatever you held previously to COVID-19 are no longer. The lack of ‘normal’ can easily elicit feelings of anxiety if you don’t implement some new daily rituals during this time. Essential tasks or set aside time frames will provide you a window to tackle what you need and want.
Take a moment to consider what you miss and what you need right now for your own soul. Is it laughing with friends? Time alone in the Word or time to journal and talk with God each morning? Time to invest in your physical health? Date nights? Whatever you miss, think about how you can create even small pockets to fit this in your day, and make it your rule.
Although what you need might not be marriage-related, it is. The more you are able to assess what you miss, what you need, and then respond to these, the healthier you’ll be in your marriage. There’s just no way around it – we’ve got to set new rules right now to ensure our souls will get fed. It’ll look different and it may not feel the same as before, but what you desire and need won’t happen unless you work it into your day and make it a must.
CREATE SPACE TO IDENTIFY AND OWN YOUR OWN FEELINGS
About two weeks into this stay-at-home order, my husband and I had a blow-up argument setting me off on three days of tears. And I don’t cry.
One day into my tears I set up an appointment with a counselor and let me just tell you in case you don’t already know, counseling is the bomb diggity.
The thing is, adjustments like the one we’re all in together throws everything off. And for some of us, we’re unexpectedly met with triggers that elicit emotions that are difficult to navigate. Turns out I’d been feeling insecure prior to our argument with not keeping up and feeling like I wasn’t enough (hello childhood wounds). So when my husband mentioned to me something he didn’t like about my driving, my usual response was nowhere to be found and instead my already established hypersensitivity fired back with tears and emotion because I took it as a personal attack.
Bottom line – I hadn’t made the space to process what was going on inside of me, so I was unable to identify and tend to the fear underlying my feelings. And we can’t own what we haven’t identified – instead, we blame.
Making space to wrestle with our feelings is healthy. Right now, no one will make space for us – we’ve got to get creative. Healthy individuals proactively take steps needed to identify their feelings (in my case I needed the help of a professional counselor) and then take responsibility for their feelings.
TRADE PROTESTING FOR COMMUNICATING
Identifying and owning our feelings won’t do a lot of good unless we’re able to communicate them in a healthy way. Unfortunately, many of us haven’t had healthy communication modeled for us, so we practice what we know. We share our needs through nagging, nitpicking, criticism, or stonewalling. Referred to as protesting, this unhealthy dynamic says, I don’t like that we’re distant, so I’m going to get your attention by showing you my ugly.
Instead, we can practice a simple but difficult shift – one that marks maturity – through vulnerability. We can honestly share our fears, insecurities and desires, and trust God to handle the rest. Vulnerability says I’m feeling alone and forgotten, I miss you, and I’d like to connect with you this week over a nice dinner..
SHOOT FOR A WEEKLY WIN
Just one thing. One. Talk to your spouse about one thing you could do to connect each week. What are each of you needing from each other? Listen, and respond. Maybe you implement a weekly sex date (for help navigating intimacy needs, click here), maybe you decide to grab some takeout and watch a show without your phones nearby, or maybe you go for a walk or run together and talk. Whatever it is, sit down together and jot down weekly wins for the next four weeks.
TAKE A CHALLENGE
With a busy life and so many responsibilities, we easily assume the marriage commitment will always hold strong, not realizing how fragile the connection actually is. When the marriage has moved into a season of familiarity and apathy, a fresh perspective breaks mundane and brings a playful boost. That’s why our book, Dear Wife: 10 Minute Invitations to Practice Connection with Your Husband offers practical, daily application to replace boring and busy with building deep intimacy and love. From seventeen different authors, you’ll be challenged and moved to see yourself and your marriage in a new light, in just ten minutes a day. You can find Dear Wife, here.
Friend, you matter. You have a purpose, and you are loved. I pray today that you would be refreshed and encouraged to take action in even one way to bless your heart and marriage. If you’d like an inviting community with ongoing support and resources for your marriage, check out our website, here.
Amanda Davison is the wife to a Minnesota farmer, mother of three, and President of the nonprofit, A Wife Like Me. She is the co-author of Dear Wife: 10 Minute Invitations to Practice Connection with Your Husband, speaker, and serves on staff at her local church, where she and her husband lead the marriage mentor team. Former psychology professor, Amanda is now relentlessly sharing how her education in counseling and God’s word changed her life and marriage. You can be a part of the growing community of wives on Facebook or Instagram, and can find many helpful resources for your marriage at A Wife Like Me.