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The Marriage Podcast for Smart People

Coronavirus and Your Marriage

Well, we live in unprecedented times as many of us are adjusting to a global crisis. We are recording this episode in the middle of the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic, with some of our listeners in cities in full lock-down and others nervously awaiting the community spread of this disease. Certainly, it has created considerable stress and new issues to negotiate. Today, we’d like to help you understand how these kinds of crises impact marriage, but more importantly, how your marriage can help you buffer the storm. 

How Coronavirus (Or Any Crisis) Affects Marriage

We want to start by normalizing what many are experiencing during this time of crisis. This is a very stressful time. Under this kind of stress, all sorts of issues are going to show up: things related to your family of origin, how you wish to feel supported under duress, communication differences, sexuality issues, attachment, and also loss.

To start with the loss issue, many people have lost the regular rhythm of their normal routines. You may find yourself no longer gathering with colleagues at work every day. If you had kids in school, you’ve lost your quiet time at home and the routines you were accustomed to. You may have lost the ability to gather with your church community, go to the gym, and head to the grocery store without fear. There is a lot of loss all around us even if the coronavirus is not in our neighbourhood. And if it is? There could be tragic loss as well. All of this comes with a lot of stress, so we’ll start by looking at how stress affects your marriage.

Stress Affects Both Spouses

Even if you are not personally as stressed, if your spouse is feeling it, it will bleed over into your experience too. Studies have shown that there is more of a correlation in wives experiencing the stress of their husbands than vice versa.[1] So if your husband is stressed, even if you weren’t, you are going to pick up on that and are likely to have an empathic response. It’s just really hard to get through a time like this untouched by what is going on around you.

You May Disagree on How to Handle the Pandemic

At ordinary times in life, you may disagree about how to handle money or whether to spend holidays with family or away on vacation. Similarly, you can also disagree about how to handle crises like this pandemic.[2]

These disagreements could be related to your family of origin. If your respective family of origin handled crises in different ways, your spouse’s approach to handling the current crisis may be much different from yours. For example, you may believe that this is a time to connect (carefully, and with social distancing) and help one another out as much as possible by sharing resources. But your spouse may feel this is a time to stockpile and hunker down and really protect yourselves and your children. Normal disagreements and differences in the way your family of origin styles tend to show up during a time of crisis.

You Deal with Stress Differently

It may also be that you have very different ways of coping with stress. This will be accentuated right now. One spouse may want to control the situation and take every possible step to ensure safety. That would be more of a doing or busy response — nothing wrong there. But the other spouse may just really need to talk about their fears and anxieties. You can see how it would be easy to have a disconnect: one spouse wondering why the other is not helping with what needs done, and the other just longing to sit down and be able to talk it out.

Naturally, if you don’t take time to communicate with one another, the stress of this crisis can make you feel estranged. So, it is important to pay attention to how the pandemic may be affecting each of you differently and how you respond both respond to it.[3]

Your Attachment Style Impacts Your Stress Response

We have talked about attachment style in past episodes (episode 251-254) and this is relevant when you are under str...
The Marriage Podcast for Smart People


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