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6 Strategies for Survival: Cohabitation in The Time Of COVID-19

Did you ever think that you would be spending this much time in your own home? I never did. Since the beginning of the pandemic we have seen our habits in terms of our daily lives shift and change depending on where our local governments believe we are in the midst of this pandemic. At the beginning of the pandemic we had legitimate stay at home orders where we were told to only leave the house if we were an essential employee or worker or if we needed to leave for groceries and things like that. 4 people that are used to coming and going as we please this was a huge change. 

Gradually as the summer 2020 war on this day at home orders went away and we were instead recommended to stay home. Many of us took those recommendations to heart and surely did only leave the home for essentials. On the other hand, there were many of us who took basic precautions but left the house into essential activities and activities of leisure like eating out, going to the parks and other things that we typically do in the summertime. The worst of the pandemic, in terms of total cases and frequency of deaths, came and went and it appeared that more people were getting comfortable with life in a pandemic and the risks that presented. 

I can remember at the beginning of the pandemic thinking that it was sort of a welcome reprieve from daily life to be able to stay home and work for the most part. How many of us lead lives that are typically very busy where stopping to take a break can be easier said than done. Essentially, this lockdown put us in a position where we forced ourselves to slow down in order to slow the spread of the virus. We all remember the various sayings and flooring this too shelter in place in order to protect the most vulnerable and slow the spread. I suppose that history will tell us whether or not our actions had any demonstrable impact on the spread of the virus. 

What I can tell you is that the spread of the virus fluctuated overtime and it is not crystal-clear what impact our own habits had on that spread or slowdown of spread. In general, we all made pretty significant sacrifices in our lives in order to combat the virus and its spread. While staying at home and working remotely may not sound like an inconvenience or change for most of us it was. Even for those of you reading this blog posts who were not in a position to work from home, it is likely that your normal activities during the week changed because you were not able to do much outside of your home. 

When the end result of the state home orders was that you and your family will be spending more time at home that produced a scenario that could lead to problems for your family from a relational perspective. Those relational challenges exist because human beings, while social creatures, are not always able to communicate and work well with one another in very close spaces over long stretches of time. We are all familiar with the saying: distance makes the heart grow fonder. This basically means that when you and the people you love have a little bit of separation that only serves to increase the bonds that you have over time. When you have very little physical distance between yourself and the people around you another thing comes to mind: familiarity breeds contempt.

while feelings towards your spouse and other family members may not have risen to the level of contempt I would go out on a limb and say every one of us has felt frustration with our families during the course of this pandemic. I don't think this makes us bad people, but it does make us human and susceptible too balancing our own wants with those of our families. Some of us are better able to manage this balancing act than others and for those of us that struggle with doing so problems that may have been festering over a long period of time could have reared their heads during this pandemic. If you and your family are working to survive the pandemic from a relational perspective, then today's blog post is for you. 

Our blog post today will focus on 6 crucial tips that you can begin to implement in your life that will help you cohabitate with your family, especially your spouse, during this season of pandemic. I understand that your family's circumstances may be completely unique and some of the advice I provide in this blog post may not apply to you specifically. However, I think for the vast majority of those of you reading this blog post much of the advice will hit home. Those pieces of advice that do not relate to you may also be able to help you get your mind turning towards how to better acknowledge your own shortcomings when it comes to communication and hopes of avoiding major problems in your relationships. 

Show patience to your spouse and to yourself

In paragraph the simplest piece of advice that I can give you on how to survive this pandemic for all the time that you spend at home is to show some patience with yourself and with your spouse. This means that you should not expect everything to go smoothly when it comes to your relationship with him or her or in your house. If you like your house to be cleaned a certain way or if you like to have a certain degree of order in your household then you should expect for there to be some degree of disturbance and those norms during the pandemic. The irony is that while we are spending more time at home, we have our attention pulled in multiple different directions. As such, the normal routines of your household may be disrupted to a certain extent.

This means that you should not have the same expectations as before when it comes to the order in structure of your home. You and your spouse may need to work together in order to make sure that kids lunches are made for school, bedrooms are cleaned up, dishes are done, and meals are made on time. This may sound like something silly but when a household functions smoothly we are more likely to be on good terms with one another in our marriages. You should talk directly with your spouse about what he or she believes is a fair arrangement for keeping the household in order and then seek to implement a plan on how to put that perspective into action. 

Work on communication with your spouse 

this may sound like something simple but being able to communicate effectively with your spouse is anything but. Many of you may be asking how this could be the case given that we spend more time with our spouses than with anyone else. Wouldn't it be the case then that we are better at communicating with our spouse than with people that we see only once in a great while? I actually think this is not the case at all. It may seem to be a little counter intuitive, that you would not be as effective speaking to your spouse as you would another person, but I have some logic behind this thought. 

We are often able to speak more honestly and with less of a propensity for anger to a person with whom we are not in a long-term relationship with. There is less history, emotion, expectation and things of that nature when we're discussing situations with our cousin then we are discussing things with our spouse. As such, it is easy to let one of these factors weigh on our deck discussions ranging from the pandemic to our children to our home life. Note that I haven't even discussed anything about problems in marriages during the coronavirus pandemic. All of these factors weigh on whether or not you and your spouse can effectively communicate with one another during this pandemic. 

Sometimes learning how to communicate with your spouse means being honest with him or her. But even honesty can be problematic if you and your spouse are more accustomed to hiding uncomfortable truths from one another and instead talking more generally about concerns in your marriage or any other subject. If you all need time to develop a method of communicating that is both respectful and honest, I would recommend that you speak with a marriage or family therapist. Despite the misgivings at some have regarding marriage or family therapists I think they can be very effective at helping people develop basic interpersonal skills. 

There is nothing wrong with admitting that you have problems in interpersonal situations. Nobody is born great at communicating with their spouse or with anyone else for that matter. It takes a great deal of practice to be able to affectively and honestly communicate with someone as important as response. Throw in all the other circumstances in our lives and it is unlikely that you have grown to be a great communicator in the past seven or eight months. This is in spite of ample opportunity and time to have done so. Take an honest look at yourself and determine whether or not you are capable of growing into the communicator that you need to be. 

Figure out a goal and work to achieve it together 

I have learned that spouses tend to run into problems in their marriages when they run out of goals to accomplish. Many times, families face challenges that require both parents or both spouses to work together to achieve a goal or solve the problem. It is during these times that spouses can learn what the others made out of and can begin to trust one another on a profound level. However, if you and your spouse are not able or willing to work on problems like this together then you may suffer the consequences in your marriage. 

I am not telling you that you should create problems on purpose in order to solve them. However, what I am recommending is that you and your spouse create circumstances in which to work together to better your lives. For instance, one thing that marriage counselors will do with patience is too have husbands and wives work together on creating a family budget. Creating a budget with your spouse can accomplish multiple things that I think are critical during times when emotions and feelings are heightened like during this pandemic. 

Creating a budget helps you and your spouse to get your arms wrapped around your financial situation. When he considers that a high percentage of divorces are filed due to financial problems in a marriage it seems like tackling this subject head on by creating a workable budget for your family is a great first step towards eliminating financial risks as a potential cause of divorce in your marriage. 

What developing a budget with your spouse also does is help you both too work as a team on a shared goal. The communication skills both of you develop as well as the organizational and a budget is not simply a way for you to erect guardrails for your marriage but it is a way for you all to give permission for yourself to spend money and is away for you too hone in on goals and objectives in your marriage that you maybe were unaware of previously. 

Determine some long-range goals for your future 

Very few people will look at the year 2020 with anything but negative emotions. Yes, I'm sure that individual people can look back on individual circumstances or situations in 2020 favorably but for the most part 2020 will be one of those years that humankind will be more than happy to leave in the past. The foremost reason for this is the coronavirus pandemic and the government's response to it becoming a factor in becoming an issue in our lives. Most people I know can't wait for 2021 to get here because, if nothing else, it means that we are getting further and further away from the unpleasantness of 2020. 

Now is a great time for you and your spouse to work together and develop a 5 year plan for your marriage and for your children. Where do you want your marriage to be in five years? Where do you physically want to be in five years? Are you working in the career field that allows you to feel fulfilled and content? Answering questions like this will lead you to additional questions that will help you to dream more clearly and develop goals for yourselves. Rather than fixate on the unpleasantness of 2020 why not think ahead too life after the pandemic? 

Focus on your children 

despite any difficulties that you and your spouse may be experiencing in your marriage it is almost certainly true that both of you share goals and aspirations for your kids. Why not put the focus of your marriage on your children in a way for many temporary problems that you are experiencing in your relationship. Talk with your kids as a team with your spouse and figure out how your kids are doing. You both may have been so wrapped up in your own marital problems that you have neglected to talk to your children about the pandemic, school or anything in between. 

This suggestion goes along with developing goals and shared challenges for Europe and your spouse to overcome together. I can think of no nobler calling for two married people than to put your own interests aside and do what is right for your children. We are called to serve others in this life and by serving your children he may also be able to serve your marriage well. 

Divorce probably should not be your go-to remedy for any of your marital problems 

finally, I would not recommend that you look towards a divorce as the best cure for any problems in your marriage. yes, I divorce can solve problems in your life in relation to your marriage, but it does so by ending the marriage completely. If you are familiar with the saying that taking extreme action can oftentimes cut off your nose to spite your face then this is exactly what I'm talking about. Getting a divorce can be very damaging two other areas of your life even if there is some immediate emotional benefit from doing so. 

Before you consider filing for divorce, I would seek the advice of multiple divorce attorneys who can guide you through the process and provide you some basic information about how to file for divorce. This does not mean that you have to hire an attorney and immediately file for divorce once you begin considering the topic. Rather, I would take some time to have actual conversations with an attorney who will listen to you and give you information about divorce given your specific circumstances. 

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 consultations six days a week in person, over the phone and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about the circumstances and issues that impact your life and your marriage. Our attorneys and staff are honored to serve clients throughout Southeast Texas, and we look forward to the opportunity to serve you and your family in the future.


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