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5 ways to deal with marital conflicts during the pandemic

A married couple shares some tips to resolving disagreements

Covid-19 brings an unprecedented level of anxiety to households, and married couples are not exempted from possible added strains into their relationships. While home quarantine can provide spouses an opportunity to reconnect, prolonged time together may also cause more disagreements with each other, especially in a pandemic.

On a positive purview, the lockdown forces couples to learn to deal with issues that may have been deferred. On the other hand, it may cause more conflict as everything is being handled amid heightened stress.

In a crisis, every little irritant has a risk of escalating. Hence, it’s important to address them head on. Here’s a few ways my husband Jacob and I resolve our marital arguments.

Aligning on spending decisions.

I like spending on multiple small things that I usually give to other people, while Jacob chooses one-time, big-time buys for the family. Though we use our personal money for these, we still argue when we feel the expenses are unnecessary.

Since we’re together more often now—Jacob’s home earlier, and I no longer have out-of-town work trips on weekends—there are fewer chances for us to hide our purchases from each other (this was such a bad habit that we practiced pre-Covid!) 

Lately, we have decided that as long as it is within acceptable range and if it doesn’t affect our joint savings, then it’s something we can talk about. Instead of responding with anger, we take extra effort to genuinely ask each other about what we bought and why, without offending the other party, which also prevents the need to be discreet about our purchases.

But, of course, taking into consideration the sensitivity of our economic situation, our spending decisions in general should also follow more mature thought processes.

Allowing each other to express emotions—good or bad—without negating it.

THOUGHTFUL GIFTS Jacob bought this Hello Glow-inspired cake for my birthday last month to congratulate me for good sales generated from the new skincare brand

For example, when I feel pressured about my job, I ask Jacob “do you think this action plan will work?” Regardless of whether Jacob agrees or not, I find myself lashing back at him. “Why would it work? Do you really think that or you’re just saying it?” Or “How could you make that comment so easily? I thought about it so thoroughly, there’s no reason it shouldn’t work!”

I feel so much tension that nothing he did was right in my eyes. There was a time Jacob would say “E, di wag mo ako tanungin  (Just stop asking me),” which made us fight even more. But when he shifted his response to “How do you feel about it?” as a way of calming me and letting me express myself, I also realized my shortcomings afterward.

Agreeing to deal with pet peeves.

During ECQ (Enhanced Community Quarantine), I noticed that Jacob opens snacks on multiple occasions, which he doesn’t consume fully and eventually goes stale and ends up in the trash bin. To add, his dirty clothes are always left on the floor just next to the laundry basket instead of inside. These irritate me so much.

We would literally argue for hours because of my complaints. I figured out later that it was easier for me to agree with Jacob that the unfinished snack would be given away within the day (before it went bad) if I saw it just laying around the room. I also just pick up the clothes and shoot them into the laundry bag myself. Fewer quarrels.

Jacob does the same about his pet peeves toward how I squeeze the toothpaste tube from the middle. He either twists it back to its correct shape or just uses a separate tube. Apparently, just accepting it and doing something about it relieves friction the easier way rather than forcing each other to change their habits.

Taking time-outs.

PLAYING GAMES Jacob’s alone time-out includes playing a mobile game with friends. It’s just a bonus that Baby Jake also likes chilling next to his papa

It can be suffocating to be together 24/7. Nowadays, Jacob and I are back at work, so I’m at the office most of the day, while Jacob monitors and manages the progress of his construction projects.

TIME OUT During ECQ, Jacob played hoops outside our house to practice shooting as part of his free solo times

But for those who are still stuck at home, it may help to take time-outs to pursue a personal hobby or just enjoy your own space for an hour or so. This can include undisturbed time scrolling through your Facebook or Instagram feeds, streaming your favorite Netflix shows, or anything that can improve your sense of self.

Remembering to show love and gratitude.

ALL SMILES Family full of love and gratitude

Make the effort to acknowledge the good things your spouse does that you appreciate. It seems like going back to the basics of showing love and gratitude is what maintains peace, love, and respect between us.

For us, words of gratitude could be for the simplest gestures, such as “thanks for having lunch with me,” “thanks for refilling my water bottle,” “thanks for getting me coffee,” “thanks for coming with me to the dentist,” and so on.

At the end of the day, frustrations are inevitable, but deciding to stay happy together has a lot to do with our disposition in life. And a heart cultivated with love and an attitude of gratitude can make a vast difference in sorting out contretemps in a relationship.

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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