Many spouses stay in the same home while divorcing. There may be practical or financial reasons for doing so, but it can still be stressful. Add in the stress created by coronavirus and social distancing and things can get unpleasant fast. Here are five tips to make sheltering in place with your spouse a better experience.
1. Create Zones of Personal Space
Having your own space reduces tension and the opportunity for conflict. One way you can get your own space is if you have a guest bedroom, one spouse can move in there. But even if you do not have a guest bedroom, you can designate personal space during the day. For example, one person could get the living room and the other could get the dining room. If you would both prefer to use the same room, you can alternate days for each room to make it fair. Giving each other some breathing room will give you more energy to be civil when you are in the same space.
2. Set Clear Expectations for Household Responsibilities.
It is easy to get frustrated and get into an argument over everyday household tasks. But having a clean and functional household is even more important when you are stuck in it all day. To avoid conflict, you and your spouse can agree on what you will each be responsible for. You can even go old school and make a chore chart so there is no confusion. It may be hard to reach an agreement with your spouse if you have different standards for the home. Try thinking of them as a new platonic roommate—everyone has to make some compromises to create harmony in the home while sheltering in place.
3. Create an On-Duty Parenting Time Schedule
Social distancing with children at home can increase stress. The more you and your spouse try to parent together, the more opportunities there are for conflict. Set a schedule for when each parent will be on duty. The on-duty parent handless caring for the children and making day-to-day decisions. They also make sure they children do their schoolwork and do not interrupt the other parent. The off-duty parent cedes control and decision making to the on-duty parent. Parenting in shifts (and giving up some control) reduces the opportunity for conflict. This is also good practice for when you will be living in separate homes and parenting separately.
4. Give Each Other Alone Time
Constant togetherness increases stress and frustration. Alone time gives everyone time to decompress. You and your spouse should plan to each get outside by yourselves every day. If you walk or exercise at separate times, then you each get alone time in the house and on your walk. Use this time to relax and clear your head so you have more patience when you are back together. You will get the most benefit if you schedule this time. That way you know you can look forward to a break from each other.
5. Agree to Disagree
Now is not the time to try to fix your spouse. There are reasons you are getting divorced. Those reasons do not go away during social distancing. Ask your spouse if they will agree to suspend all arguments for the time being. If they will not agree, you can still choose to be the bigger person and walk away. Develop a mantra: “I will not argue with you while we are both stuck in this house.” If they try to pick a fight or bait you, calmly repeat your mantra. They will likely get tired of trying to argue with someone who will not argue back.
Divorce is hard. Social distancing is hard. Be kind to yourself and your spouse during this time. Try out some of the suggestions above and see if they make your home happier and healthier despite coronavirus. Call Porchlight, 678-435-9069, for help with your divorce.