What to do if you think the pandemic has killed your marriage
Photo of Carol Fare

Throughout lockdown you were longing for life to return to normal.  And now that restrictions have begun to ease, you’re finding it harder than you expected.  You’re enjoying being able to socialise and enjoy some of the things you missed.  But your marriage has not bounced back.  Leaving you wondering if the pandemic has killed your marriage.  And not knowing what to do about it.

Sound familiar?  The good news is that there are steps you can take to get your marriage back on track. I’d like to share these with you, so you can stop worrying whether the pandemic has killed your marriage.

Have fun

It’s been tough to have fun during lockdown, especially the last one.  When juggling home schooling, running a home as well as working, fun is often the thing which has been squeezed out. I talk about this in my blog Has the pandemic killed my marriage?

It’s really important to start building some fun activities back into your life, especially as a couple. 

I know there are lots of jobs and lots of things you can catch up on.  Having fun together may be a long way down on your list of priorities.  Or feel like something you can do when you’ve got spare time.

It can help to think of fun time as an investment – in your marriage, your family as well as yourself – and that your marriage and family are worth investing it.  Because what you will get back will be far more than the time you spend.

Have a think about something you would both enjoy which you could do together.  It could be to watch a comedy, play a board game or sport together, or visit a new or favourite restaurant.  The important thing is to be doing something fun together.

Shared goals

It’s likely that you’ve been operating in survival mode for most of the last year.  You’ve not been able to plan.  And when you did, they often had to change.

Now’s a good time to check in with each other and work out what you want to happen next in your marriage and family life.   Start a conversation with your husband about your priorities as a couple for the next few months. 

This is more than a to do list.  This is working out what’s important to you both and what you want to focus your time and energy on.  Because when you have shared goals, you have something to aim for as well as something to look forward to.  And you are working together on them, which can help you to feel like a couple again rather than co-workers.

So start a conversation by asking ‘what’s our focus for the summer?’ or ‘what do you think is important for us next?’  If he answers that he wants to watch sport and you want to have days out as a family, this needs working out.  And its easier to do that now rather than when you’re in the thick of it.    

Shared responsibility

I’m hearing from lots of mums that the burden of home schooling and running the home has shifted back to them during the pandemic.  Whilst still trying to keep on top of work.  If that has happened to you, now is the time to start getting some balance back.  Here are 4 steps to do just that

  1. Make a list of all the jobs, tasks and chores around the house – the ones he does as well as the ones you do.  As mums we are masters at keeping everything in their head. Writing it down allows it to become visible both to you and your husband. 
  2. Sit down with the list with your husband to have a conversation about how you are going to organise things at home.
  3. Don’t ask for help (which suggests it’s all your responsibility).  Instead ask ‘how are we going to organise this?’ or ‘how are we going to make this all happen?’ which makes it clear it’s a shared responsibility.
  4. When he does a job from the list, or takes responsibility for something, let him know you’ve noticed and that you appreciate it.  Thanking someone is the best way of encouraging them to continue with that behaviour.
Take a decision pause

If you’ve started to wonder what life would be like if you split up, or that maybe it would be best if you went your separate ways, a decision pause can help.  This is where you decide to take a pause on making a decision about the future your marriage, while you try out some changes to see if they make a difference. 

When you agree with yourself that for the next 30, 60 or 90 days, you’re going to focus on making your marriage work and that you will review the situation at the end of the decision pause, it makes a big difference.  Because you stop using time and energy trying to figure out whether you should stay in your marriage, which takes you away from making changes which could save it.

And having the constant question of ‘should I stay in my marriage?’ going round in your head is at best distracting and at worst really upsetting.  It may stop you sleeping or being able to concentrate and focus.  And makes day to day life harder (and at the moment it’s hard enough).

Taking a decision pause helps with this.  Because when thoughts about the future of your marriage pop up (which they will) simply remind yourself that you’re taking a decision pause and you will revisit this at the end to review how it’s going.

Why has this happened

You might be wondering why you are feeling this way (and lots of mums are at the moment).  Through the long days of lockdown you were longing for this time and can’t understand why you are not enjoying life and your marriage more.  If that’s the case my blog Has the pandemic killed my marriage? will help.  Because when you understand why something is happening, it makes it easier to deal with.

What next

I hope this blog has given you some ideas about steps you can take to get your marriage back on track and stop worrying about whether the pandemic has killed your marriage.  These questions will help you get started

  • Which step are you going to put into practice first?
  • What do you need to do to make it happen?
  • What might get in your way?
  • What could help you make this happen?

If you feel you’d like some support in getting your marriage back on track, check out Making My Marriage Work