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Love under lockdown—a divorce lawyer’s advice to pandemic-proof your marriage

Couples are spending much more time together under stay-at-home orders, testing relationships more than ever.
Credit: Gevurtz Menashe

As we continue to cope with the impact of Covid-19 public health crisis, couples are spending much more time together under stay-at-home orders. This, combined with potential financial hardships, are testing relationships more than ever. As family law attorneys we see what happens when relationships begin to lose their spark.

COVID-19 has upended the lives of people and couples around the world. In China, where millions have been in lockdown since early 2020, Bloomberg reports a record spike in divorce filings. From our perspective and years of experience in helping people through divorce, here are tips to try to maintain common bonds with your spouse or partner as we begin to transition to a post-quarantine era:

Find Smalls Ways To Enjoy Each Other 

Many of us are experiencing a heightened level of anxiety. While stuck at home create date nights. Order dinner from your favorite restaurant, turn your patio into a wine-tasting haven, or build a fort in your living room with your favorite tub of ice cream and a good puzzle. Do something small that your spouse or partner will appreciate. Create special moments within familiar surroundings.

Be On the Same Team

While we are living through a highly stressful time, try to cut each other some slack when tensions rise and remember you’re on the same team. Try replacing the word “why” with “how.” Instead of “why didn’t you help me with the kids?” use “how do you think we can divide up our parental duties more fairly?” Using “how” statements can shift the focus from blaming to being solution-oriented.

Timing and Tone Are Key

When trapped in close quarters tense moments are inevitable. Don’t always “hit the send button” right away. Take a moment. Think about what you want to say, how to say it, and when to say it. Listen to your spouse’s/partner’s perspective—don’t just think about what you want to say next while they are speaking. Confirm that you have heard and understand what they are saying. Doing so can provide a great framework for truly resolving issues or areas of disagreement. It’s often better to be nice than to be right.

Take Time Apart

There’s no need to watch every Netflix show together. Personal space and time can be refreshing. This may require bartering with your spouse for some time away from the kids or chores--that’s okay. Go for a walk or take time in another room or zone in the house to catch up on HGTV, watch YouTube, listen to a podcast, or read a good book. Many couples thrive when there’s a healthy balance between time spent together and time spent apart.

We Can Help

Social distancing, home-schooling, supply shortages, feeling out of control, and the general fear of what lies ahead can be emotionally exhausting and consuming. Do your best to use this time to enrich yourself and those around you. Life is uncertain; if despite your efforts things don’t work out as you hope, we are here for you. For nearly 40 years we’ve helped people transition into the next phase of their lives. If we can be of assistance please call or contact us online today.  

*This is general information only and not meant to provide specific legal advice. *

Authored by family law attorneys Tiffany Jensen and Marshal Spector. Tiffany is a Partner with Gevurtz Menashe and is licensed in Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Marshal is an Of Counsel attorney with the firm and licensed in Oregon. Both focus their practice exclusively on family law issues such as divorce, parenting and custody issues, and child and spousal support.