Keep communicating With so much going on and tensions running high, it can be hard to keep an open dialogue – especially if you’re feeling scared or upset. I feel the key to keep your relationship solid throughout this period is the right communication. This heightened anxiety may create strong negative emotional reactions; anger or frustration. When experiencing these emotions try and stay mindful of your responses. Communication is key. Try and be as clear as possible with each other. If you are frustrated or stressed then try to use ‘I’ statements to communicate how you are feeling, it’s very easy to slip into the blame game when we are stressed and it doesn’t help anyone.
Try to put big arguments on hold
Although it is normal to expect some tension during this ongoing situation, you shouldn’t use it as a chance to vent all of your ongoing relationship issues, some things will need to be parked. Big and difficult conversations may need to be put on hold while you deal with the current situation – this is especially true if one of you is ill or thinks they may have symptoms. This is not the best time for anyone to be bossy around the house, we need ourselves more than ever right now! Please avoid a blame game about domestic chores any other forms of transferring aggression this time. Everyone is hungry and sad.
Ensure you aren’t just working all the time
If you and your partner are struggling to manage to work from home and your relationship then try to establish a clearer ‘home life’ and ‘work-life’ from now on. It can be hard at the beginning to separate the two and this can have a detrimental impact. “If you are working at home, there will still be home and life admin to do – set a time for this. It may feel like the house is a tip or needs cleaning, but make an executive decision to do this outside of ‘working hours’. Many of us will struggle with working from home as it limits our capacity in different ways, so try not to pile extra home stress on work stress.
Set family goals and expectations
Couples therapist Dr Kalanit Ben-Ari says now we know we’re likely to be indoors for a long time, sit down with your family – especially your children – and discuss how this is going to work. For example, children will be expected to do homework at this time, or help with laundry and the dishwasher. “If you and your partner are now working from home, be aware that this is a change of the unspoken contract between you. Talk about expectations and if you need to change up certain responsibilities,” she says. And if you are intending a couple planning your wedding, this could be the best time to evaluate and reassess your goals on this emerging reality.
Don’t avoid answering kids questions about Coronavirus
Many parents probably feel like they don’t want to talk anymore about the coronavirus – especially as it is the reason you are stuck in the house in the first place. But if children have legitimate questions and you refuse to answer them this could cause more tension. Drury says: “Kids are smart and will have lots of questions. Shutting down questions will only create confusion, upset, and anxiety. Talking to them about what is happening factually can alleviate that. Take your cues from your child and prepare but don’t prompt for questions.” 
Treat each other with kindness
Regardless of who you are sharing your home with during self-isolation, every relationship can be improved with kindness. Beresford says: “Recognise that everyone is going to be feeling some strain. Even children who are delighted to be off school will sense there is a negative backdrop to it all. Practice gratitude and daily thank those around you. Thanks to many generous Nigerians who give Give-Away prices to the needy on social media especially twitter community, Imam of Peace, Reno Omokri, Apostle Suleiman, Davido, Abass Obesere, Paul Okoye, Chief Dele Momodu to mention a few.
Take breaks from each other.
No marriage does well when spouses are together 24/7. Speak — out loud — about the type of break that works for you. No silent treatment here. Talking about your expectations — break time in another room, 20 minutes online, or an uninterrupted TV show — helps keep those goals realistic and keeps you and your spouse on the same page. Forget individual differences here, just do it! You can even assist the less privilege if you have the resources.
Unite against an adversary. The health challenge of Ebola in 2014 was massively defeated with the help of God and dedicated front line health workers especially the early intervention of late Dr Stella Adevavoh whom singlehandedly reported the case of Patrick Sawyer to the appropriate authority in time. When threatened by Liberian officials who wanted the patient to be discharged to attend a conference, she resisted the pressure and said, “for the greater public good” she would not release him.
The same can be true of your marriage/ relationship in the face of the coronavirus quarantine. This is an opportunity to rally as a married/ intending couple and function as a team. Unemployment is increasing daily which could compound families problems. Look at how some Banks are downsizing their workers lately. Most employers of Labour are laying off workers they either outsourced or feel their services are no longer needed. Job loss is causing serious altercations in families globally and with the economic stimulus, international organizations are giving countries assist in no small ways but are it really working in Nigeria?
Make your home a safe environment.
When two people feel safe, hearts open and connections happen. When people feel unsafe, hearts close and individuals disconnect. Talk to your spouse about how to create a home that feels safe for each person. Start by asking your spouse to complete this sentence: “I feel safe when you…”
For those planning to settle down after the COVID-19 –
Participate in virtual therapy (Facebook, Instagram, or other social networking platforms) or phone calls with a Christian counsellor, get a jump start on marriage counselling. Besides, a counsellor may be able to help you and your spouse make good decisions about your time together during the coronavirus quarantine. you and your spouse can work to make your home a safe place and maybe even rediscover the connections and activities that once brought joy to your relationship.
Let us continue to stay safe and abide by all precautions as recommended by the WHO to keep our goals, families, and hope alive and soonest, our nation and the whole world will rise again.
ALABA DAMILARE SAMUEL (Content Writer, Communicator and Social Media Manager)
Email: ibdamy@gmail.com

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