On March 1st, New York City announced it’s first Covid-19 case. By March 15th the CDC recommends a stay at home guideline. It’s been 21 weeks (as of this writing) since the lockdown occurred.
A lot has happened since then.
By the way, this article is not about Covid-19. I have no desire (nor the expertise to weigh in on the medical issues). I am, however, interested in how this epidemic has affected relationships.
I recently listened to a podcast on forming habits. While the numbers vary depending on who you ask, it takes somewhere between 21 to 30 days to form a habit. Some research even suggests it’s much longer than that at 90 days.
Regardless. We are now over 147 days in a virus lockdown and most sociologist and psychologist recognize the fact that our lives have changed forever. Not just because of the viral impact of the disease. But because of the nature of habit forming.
In This Article
New Habits Have Formed
147 days is more than enough time to create new habits.
For example, business professionals believe we have changed forever the way to do business and shop. Zoom meetings will replace face-to-face sit down meetings.
That’s just one change. But it will shape the way business is conducting forever.
Not only have we formed habits about how we work, attend church, shop (Amazon has logged record breaking sales during this time), and learn (many schools are using virtual classrooms as we kickoff a new school year), we have also changed the way we do marriage.
For some, this has been a time to reconnect and rediscover sharing life together again.
For others, the gulf has widened even further around the disconnect you feel with your spouse.
New habits have been formed.
Marriages have changed.
The question is: What new relationship habits have you formed? Is your marriage better? Or worse?
If you answer better, good for you. Keep doing what you are doing. Guard what you’ve built. Don’t allow yourself to creep back into the same ole routine once we are able to move freely in community again.
If, however, you answered no, here are a few things you can do to create better relationship habits.
#1 Turn Off the Television and Talk
I’m sure you hear it all the time. It’s not earth-shaking news. But it’s true. You keep hearing that mantra over and over because it works.
Good relationships are built around communication.
Years ago (when I was pastor of a church) I taught a series of messages on building strong friendships. I noted the difference in the words relationship and relate.
Relationship is a noun. Relate is a verb.Relationship is a noun. Relate is a verb. Stop talking about your relationship and start relating to your spouse like it matters most. Click To Tweet
I hear people talk about their marriage relationship, yet at closer look there doesn’t seem to be much relating. We’ve allowed things to get in the way of a fundamental aspect of marriage – relating to one another.
#2 Go For A Walk
I realize for many getting out to the local store is difficult. My wife and I live in a ‘cold zone’ when it comes to coronavirus. There are relatively small numbers of the virus in our town. So grocery shopping hasn’t been that challenging (although my wife might say different). My point is, since we are not in a hot zone, things are quite as hectic and challenging as other places.
Regardless of how difficult it may be where you live, try to create an opportunity to take a walk and get some fresh air.
Exercise not only helps you physically, it has great benefits for you as a couple.
Movement helps us detox and clear our heads. This is always good for a marriage.
Being stuck inside can present opportunities to be critical, negative and grumpy. Get outdoors and breath fresh air. It will help you get clarity.
#3 Play Games
My wife loves to play board games. When I say love, I mean LOVE.
I remember one night after we had been married for only a few months, she said, ‘Feel like playing Rummy?’ I thought she was joking until I saw the deck of cards in her hand.
I replied, “Just me and you?”
Her response? ‘Of course!”
We played. We laughed. We connected.
Now it’s normal for us to play games. Even if it’s just us.
Play is important in marriage.
It’s sad that often we lose sight of how to play. As kids, it was normal for us to discover new ways to have fun.
As adults, we wait to be entertained.
Use this time to rediscover the art of play.
#4 Read Inspirational and Motivational Material
It’s easy to veg out on the couch and gorge on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. We’ve certainly watched a few series during lockdown.
But don’t waste this opportunity to take a course, read a book, and learn a new skill.
I’ve been an avid learner all my life. So this is not new to me. However, I made a decision in March that I would not waste this time. I’ve taken at least 5 courses (and I’m not talking about one video mini-courses. These were courses that equipped me with a new skill) and I’m working on a few others.
Is there something you could do to raise your inspiration level a notch? Why not get started. There are tons of courses of Udemy. During this time they are also offering most courses at great prices.
One more thing…
My wife is an avid reader. She wore out one Kindle Reader so we just ordered her a new one. When it came in the mail, she immediately downloaded 5 or more books from the library.
Talk about not wasting opportunity! She keeps herself inspired because she fills her mind with uplifting, encouraging words.
#5 Make a Contribution to Culture and Society
My wife and I are both writers. Our JOB is to contribute. At least that’s the way we see it.
That said, it’s important that your marriage is connected to a purpose. It’s also vital that you understand why you are on earth.
Without purpose, we lose energy, direction and inspiration. We end up spinning our wheels and going nowhere.
Make a decision to use this time to write the book you’ve been wanting to write. Or learn to play the instrument you always wanted to play.
I’m not saying, ‘Go start a band.’ I hope you see the humor in that statement.
I am saying go make a difference. Not by arguing on social media. We’ve had an abundance of that and quite frankly it doesn’t change anything.
Want to change things? Serve.
I love the words of Jesus on this.
But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.Matthew 23:11
Servitude is not slavery. It is the willingness to give yourself to others in order to meet needs.Jesus said the greatest would a servant. Servitude is not slavery. It is the willingness to give yourself to others in order to meet needs. Click To Tweet
It’s interesting to note that the greatest companies are the ones that serve the greatest needs. At least they start out that way.
Think about Microsoft. There goal was to put a computer in every home. They wanted to serve a generation by giving them access to computers that would change they way they did life.
By the way, they are a billion dollar company with over 300 billion in assets.
My point: Do something with your life that will make a positive difference in the lives of others.
Before we started this blog, my wife and I took our knowledge of relationships and began sharing with others. We wrote articles, offered classes, taught and spoke at events. The Healthy Marriage evolved out of a desire to serve couples and help them create the kind of marriage they dream about. The marriage they desire and deserve.
What about you? What can you do to make an impact and serve your community?
Don’t waste the opportunity. Write. Sing. Create. Fulfill that dream in your heart. And make a difference.
Wrapping It Up
With over 147 days of quarantine (stay at home recommendations) in effect, new habits have formed that will shape the way we do life for decades to come.
Marriage habits have also been shaped during this time. Some good. Some bad.
In this article we talked about 5 ways to recreate good habits and turn the tide of an eroding relationship.
Here is a brief recap:
- #1 Turn Off the Television and Talk
- #2 Go For A Walk
- #3 Play Games
- #4 Read Inspirational and Motivational Material
- #5 Make a Contribution to Culture and Society
You’ve heard the statement, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day!’ It’s true.
Neither are good habits. It takes time, energy and concentration to build a good habit.
If you are ready to get to work on your marriage and change the way you relate to your spouse, we recommend the programs below to help get your marriage in shape.