Navigating Domestic Relations Disputes During the Coronavirus Pandemic

One of the trickiest parts of marriage is learning how to manage disputes with your spouse. For the most part, these disputes are relatively minor and tend to gravitate around subjects that are not overly complex and are temporary. For example, you might have a different opinion than your spouse on saving for a house, dealing with the problem your child is having in school, or handling a particular circumstance in your family that has come up recently. These are disputes and issues that will be sorted out by the two of you, or the Clock will run out on, and you will not have to think much about these problems in the future.

Spouses’ agreement sometimes settles disputes, but they are sometimes also put to bed when this subject matter changes. For example, you and your spouse may have had a disagreement about a particular subject, but then something else came up, and you lost track of the argument and moved on to something else. The following day or the next week, you may not have even been able to remember what it was you were arguing about in the 1st place. We see this happen in the home when we also see this happening in the workplace. Sometimes all it takes is a little distraction to move us along from one subject to the next.

If you haven’t noticed, not much has been moving along quickly in the past few months. Time has seemed to a standstill since the beginning of the pandemic, given how we are spending more time at home in find ourselves with fewer things to do than we had just a few months previous. While this may not be as true today as it was a few months ago, I’m sure many of you are like me and sometimes think that the days are running together more than ever before. Distinguishing between a Monday and a Thursday isn’t as easy when all the days feel the same.

This is due to the various stay-at-home orders in place and, more recently, stay-at-home recommendations issued by state and local governments. As much as it may have been a pain to leave the house every morning, go to work, and go about your routine, there was a specific pattern that our bodies in our minds had become accustomed to. These patterns helped us differentiate our days in our habits to allow us to live happy and productive lives. That’s not to say that you can’t be satisfied or productive during a pandemic, but it does get a little trickier when so much of our routine has been thrown off for this time.

If you have been spending more time at home, it is likely true that your spouse is in the same boat. Having more time at home may have seemed like a blessing at the beginning of this pandemic, but it is likely now wearing thin for many of you. Even a person who considers him or herself to be a homebody probably isn’t overly excited at being able to spend the vast majority of their week at home. Remember going to the movies? What about going to a sporting event or a restaurant without having to be constantly reminded about social distancing and the other precautions that have to be in place right now? Hopefully, these types of safety measures will no longer be necessary for 2021, but for now, they are as much a part of our lives as anything else.

Often, these disagreements that spouses have with one another during this time may not be solved in a short amount of time. Likewise, the distractions that may pull you away from these issues are minimal right now. The holiday season is upon us, and there are even more stressors in most of our lives due to the typical seasonal factors that come into play about Thanksgiving and Christmas. It would be normal to feel a little stressed out right now in a specific year. But, as all of us know, this is anything but an average year.

Getting along with your spouse is always essential, but it is even more critical right now compared to most years. It would be easy for a simple disagreement to get out of hand and to lead to significant arguing or even violence of some sort. That doesn’t mean that you and your spouse need to get a divorce or have some underlying emotional issues with one another, but it does mean that this pandemic has put most of us in a worse place from a mental health perspective. This means that you need to be vigilant about relating to your spouse and how you solve problems together.

In today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, I would like to share some thoughts on navigating domestic relations disputes during this coronavirus pandemic. I will do my best to keep my attorney hat on and not slide on a marriage or family therapist hat. While I am married and have three kids of my own, I cannot comment on your scenario or compare it to my marriage scenarios because I do not know you personally. However, I have encountered several different methods and circumstances by representing people in family law cases that I believe can help me avoid significant disputes right now.

Improve your communication skills during this pandemic

there is an old saying that goes something along the lines of the best time to have planted a tree was 20 years ago, and the second-best time to plant a tree is right now. This means that if you need food, shelter, or just a shady place to relax, the best time to have prepared for that need would have been to plant the tree years ago. That tree could have grown and matured, and you would have had the word, shade, or fruit from the tree to eat when the need arose years later. However, since we can’t go back in time, the next best time to plant that tree would be now. Don’t wait on something simply because you are frustrated or feel like the moment has escaped improving your life.

The same rule applies to learning and developing good communication skills. Nobody comes out of the womb as a good communicator. This is obvious since none of us go out of the womb knowing how to talk as newborns. We have to learn how to speak, and more importantly, learn how to listen over time and with practice. Some of us learn communication skills at an early age and then develop them further as we become adults. Others struggle with learning these skills and therefore have more problems as we develop relationships due to our inability or unwillingness to communicate well.

Just because you have gotten married does that mean that you will magically become a better communicator. I could make an argument that marriage may make you a worse communicator because of the heightened emotions surrounding various subjects. While you certainly have ample opportunity to improve upon your communication skills during this pandemic, you will not necessarily be able to do so. Like anything else in life, you need to have a plan and be intentional about acting that plan out to improve in any area of your life. Communication is no different, and therefore, you have to become focused on this issue to improve it.

The other difficulty when it comes to communication is that it is a two-way street. Just because you would like to improve your communication skills does not mean that your spouse is on board with that idea. This is a critical step in the process because it does not matter if you are the only person who wants to improve your marriage through better communication. If your spouse is not on board, then your marriage will enhance in this area, and you will likely be going through additional periods of hostility with them. If this is happening at your wedding, you have a couple of different options to choose from.

The first option would be to sit down with your spouse with no distractions and honestly talk to them about your thoughts and problems regarding the marriage. When I say no distractions, I mean that the kids should be at school or in bed, the television should be turned off, in your phone should be put away. If you all cannot put your phones away and cannot minimize distractions to have a critical conversation, that should speak to the problems apparent in your relationship. You must pay close attention to one another in honor of the other person’s thoughts about this subject.

Once you sit down with your spouse to have this discussion, you should make it as straightforward as possible about what you want to see happen regarding the communication in your marriage. The irony is not lost on me that I’m asking you to communicate about how you believe your communication skills need to improve as a couple. However, even if you all struggle with your communication skills, you can’t be precise with some effort. Make sure that you set your expectations with your spouse and make them aware of the steaks as you see them. If this issue is a 10 out of 10 in importance, you should make that abundantly clear to your spouse.

The problem with communication is that sometimes a spouse will point out that Something is a problem in the relationship, but the other spouse will not understand how important of a pain it is to them. From my experience, it will often be the husband who does not understand how important something is to their wife and will therefore not take it as seriously as his wife would like him to. If this sounds like something you may be guilty of, you should take extra precautions to pay close attention to your wife and discuss something with her. By the same token, if you are a wife who has concerns about communication in your marriage, you need to be so precise with your husband about these problems has to leaves no room for doubt about how important the issue is.

If you cannot communicate directly with your spouse about this subject, you need to move on to different options. The most straightforward option would be to use a licensed family therapist or marriage counselor to help you and your spouse sort through whatever issues you have concerning your marriage and communication. I would recommend that you share your thoughts on this subject with one another before seeking counseling. I do not have enough experience with this subject to tell you much about how effective counseling can be when only one spouse is partaking in the process. However, it would be best if both you and your spouse attended counseling or therapy to ensure that your marriage can overcome any bumps in the road as far as communication and your relationship are concerned.

A lot of people hold views regarding counseling and therapy that are not true. The idea that only people who have given up on their marriage attend counseling is not accurate. Many people have successful marriages among us who regularly attend a wedding in family therapy sessions. These sessions can be beneficial to people who can take an honest inventory of their lives and determine that they need help in different areas where they may struggle or need improvement. All it takes is being honest with yourself and having the courage to discuss these issues with your spouse.

How to go about planning for your divorce during the quarantine

It may be that despite attempts to reconcile your relationship and work on issues like communication, the nature of your relationship gets worse during this pandemic enough for you to consider getting a divorce. This should not be something you can ignore or try to put off until the pandemic is over. As you would have seen in many different blog posts that we have had posted to our website since the beginning of this pandemic, the coronavirus pandemic is no excuse; it is not a good reason to delay a divorce that may be necessary for you and your family.

Again, what is necessary for you may not be necessary for me and vice versa. I think it is fair to say that if your domestic relations have eroded to the point where there is a risk of violence or abuse in the home, you need to take steps to protect yourself and your family. Filing for divorce can begin to involve the protections offered to you through the judicial system, such as implementing protective and temporary orders that can keep you safe. At the same time, you attempt to navigate the divorce process. In addition, you should begin to develop a strategy and plan for you to leave your family home if that becomes necessary.

Overall, whatever state you are in terms of your marriage allowed you to make plans for the future. Whether those plans involve a reconciliation attempt or divorce, there are many resources available to you to help you learn more about whatever stage of life you are in. Beginning that process by speaking with knowledgeable family law attorneys who can help guide you through the process is an excellent place for you to be in. Why not take some advice from persons that have been there before so that you may be able to build a better future for yourself and your family?

Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

if you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post; please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are an excellent way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law and the services that our law office provides to our clients.

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