The Times


How to work from home and not get divorced

  • Written by Anne Marie Cade

Covid has triggered life-changing decisions for some people and has put a lot of relationship strain on couples. The stress of working from home and having to home school the children at the same time has proved challenging for many parents. However, there are a few strategies that can be put in place to ensure you don’t end up getting divorced when lockdown ends. To survive this situation, it is important that couples support each other and work together to navigate the uncertain times. It is about understanding each other’s needs, setting boundaries, being present for the kids and prioritizing self-care.

The first step would be to create a plan and set up a routine for the family. Everyone is stressed including the children so scheduling time to wake up, setting study time and meal times together is important. Also discuss the household chores and discuss how they are to be  shared by everyone including the children Limit the technology use and schedule in some playtime too. Do not place pressure on one person to do the household chores – make the rule that if you make a mess, you clean it up.  Everyone needs to pull together and be part of the solution. 

Create healthy boundaries by setting up a sanctuary somewhere in the home where it is quiet with maybe just a chair or on the patio where you can have some alone time to read, meditate or do what they like alone. This will help you reset and unwind. As a parent nurturing yourself is vital so you can look after the others. 

Make the time to have the conversation and communicate clearly. Our patience can be tested in these times of uncertainty. If something is bothering you it is important to tell your partner about it, explain how you are feeling and the reasons for it. Unmet expectations is a key cause for stress in a relationship. If you don’t communicate the problem clearly to your partner they may make assumptions which are incorrect. In my practice the common complaint I hear from couples is that “he/she did not listen to me.” Being locked in provides a couple with opportunity to connect with each other. Ask questions to discover what the problem is, take about solutions and share ideas about how to resolve the issues without blaming the other person. 

Calm yourself down and make the time and space to have the conversation. Ask your partner when he/she would like to have a chat and schedule in a time. Listen to what the other person has to say without interrupting. Pause before responding. Pick your battles. Once you have said something you can’t take it back. We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we speak. If you are having arguments over little things, ask why and be patient.

Don’t put children before your marriage. If your marriage is strong the children benefit. Find time to nurture your relationship even if it means just watching TV together at the end of the day.

Make time to move and exercise frequently as exercise improves well-being. Reflect on all the good things that have happened and express gratitude. Look for the silver linings and you will find many. People who savour positive experiences report higher levels of happiness and self esteem and lower levels of depression.

If you notice the signs of relationship strain and you are unable to have a conversation, see a professional like a conflict resolution specialist or a relationship mediator who can assist you improve your communication skills.
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