We have encouraged couples for all these years to look for ways to build bridges, rather than walls that separate us. But how do we do this during this time where “social distancing” is being encouraged? We just have to be creative! Some of you are naturally creative. But others don’t have that talent. So that’s why we’re going to give you a few additional tips to help you build bridges of connectivity with each other. We shared a few in the last marriage insight (titled, Connecting During This Difficult Time), but we have a few more tips for you.
And we would love it if you would share some of your tips below. Keep in mind that we’re in this together. Lets be proactive in encouraging each other!
First, Despite the Call for us to be Involved in Social Distancing:
– Watch less news. That might seem contrary to what we’re tempted to do right now with the virus numbers expanding. But is it healthy for us to continually focus on the news? It’s tempting, but is it healthy? Does it feed you in positive ways? Sure, we need to stay informed. But what about doing it in smaller segments? We heard a doctor talk about this very thing. He suggested that we watch less news for the betterment of our health.
He pointed out that stress can cause physical problems. So his suggestion was that we tune into the news for 20-minute segments. We can do this 3 times a day so we still stay informed. And yet our minds aren’t overloaded with continual negativity.
But then, we need to go look for something positive to focus on, and/or spend our energies. One suggestion is to take a walk. (Even if it’s just in your yard or around the house, it’s still a healthy thing to do.) Just make sure you keep your distance away from others. Whatever you do, make it a point to apply what we’re told in Philippians 4:8-9:
“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned, received and heard and seen in me—practice these things; and the God of peace will be with you.“
Spiritual and Mental Hygiene
This all falls into the category of spiritual and mental hygiene. We heard another doctor talking about this, concerning this season of social distancing. He said that spiritual and mental hygiene is as important as hand washing. We need to disinfect our thoughts so they don’t poison our minds. But negative thinking can also ruin our immune systems. There is a LOT of medical evidence that supports this. Dr Daniel Amen stated:
“When you have a negative thought your brain releases chemicals that make you feel bad. And those chemicals decrease the effectiveness of your immune system. But when you have happy, grateful thoughts it strengthens your body.”
Plus, it sure helps your attitude and spiritual walk.
Dr Amen talked about “killing the A.N.T.s.” An A.N.T. is an “Automatic, Negative Thought.” Will this be difficult? Absolutely! But is it necessary, and healthy? Absolutely! We need to kill those ANTS when they attack us. That doesn’t mean that we don’t deal with our problems. It just means that we deal with them in healthy ways. The Marriage Missions web site has all kinds of articles and Communication Tools posted to help you do that. Just look around and apply that, which will work for you.
Social Distancing and Our Attitudes
– Decide to approach this “lockdown” situation with a more positive attitude. It’s easy to slide into a negative one—especially when you are staying at home with each other more because of this health crisis. But fight that temptation. Again, it’s a matter of applying Philippians 4:8-9, amongst other scriptures. Go on a scripture search as a couple, or as a family. Here’s what Dennis Prager says about making the decision to grab onto a positive attitude:
“If you’re confined with someone, you owe it to them not to be morose. It’s a character issue—a moral obligation.”
Now, if you’re in an abusive situation, we aren’t talking about enabling them to hurt you. That is a whole different situation. (Please visit the Abuse in Marriage topic for pointers on dealing with that type of issue.) But under less toxic situations, work to focus on your blessings, and all God would have you. Try to be as easy to live with as you can. Work to change the way you approach negative situations. This goes along with something Viktor Frankl said:
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. … Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
In all of this, choose joy. Remember that we are told in scripture: “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10) Look for joy wherever you can. Even if you have to search for it.
During this time of social distancing, here are a few additional suggestions:
– Find different ways to connect and change our focus in positive ways. Read, and talk to friends through social media. Call friends and family members who are alone. Watch a movie, listen to music, and engage in hobbies. But in all of this, don’t neglect your spouse and those that are living in your home. Make it a point to ESPECIALLY connect with them. You can also:
– Start a Garden, during Lockdown. The majority of families on lockdown have some yard available, and this is a good time to start a family basic garden. The garden doesn’t need to be particularly fancy. You can order off the Internet some lettuce, carrots and other items that are easy to grow. And then you can add a few items that your family would enjoy eating.” (Michael Boler, from the Christian Emergency Network article, “Start a Garden”)
This makes so much sense. We realize that everyone reading this can’t do this. But many of you can. We have. Several years ago we put in several raised-bed gardens. Our backyard isn’t very big, but we could do this much. It has been great to have fresh vegetables available. It’s good to do this as marriage partners (and as a family). And during this crisis, this leaves more veggies left at the stores for others who can’t do this.
Read the rest of the linked article above and reap the benefits that growing a garden can bring. And look around for more tips, as well.
Plus, During this Time of Social Distancing
Here are some additional tips you can consider using that Debi Walter gave from Theromanticvineyard.com:
– Make fun, despite serious times.
“Our daughter’s neighborhood is doing a fun thing to make this experience a memorable event for their children. Residents were invited to place teddy bears in the windows of their homes looking out at the street. As people were out taking a much needed walk, they were encouraged to ‘spot the bears’ from the street. …What a great way to add some fun the kids will remember!
– Another neighborhood had neighbors write positive encouraging messages on the road and sidewalks using chalk, so neighbors could read them as they walk around the block.”
We have neighbors who are doing this. They have been quite creative! It’s fun to take a walk and see those encouraging messages. You can even post some positive messages in your windows, or on your doors. Here are other tips from Debi that we have been doing as well:
– Visit with neighbors from a distance.
“How about setting up lawn chairs in your driveways and visiting with neighbors from your own property? Social distancing, but still interacting neighbor to neighbor.”
– Do some Spring-cleaning.
“This is a great opportunity to get some much needed projects done around the house: painting, organizing, spring cleaning and gardening. We don’t have to let the stress of COVID-19 penetrate our every waking thought. God is in control and we can trust Him.
“Let’s be smart and make the most of the time. Remember the big picture and how this event will be remembered by our children, and our grandchildren. They will remember this long after we’re gone. It matters more than we know.”
That is a VERY important point! We have a “great cloud of witnesses” surrounding us (despite social distancing). Those witnesses are in Heaven and on earth. Lets not lose sight of all the ways God is working. Our “walk” is important both now and in the future.
With this in mind, here’s another great suggestion to prayerfully consider doing during this stressful time:
– “Step back, take a breath and whisper a prayer. Feel stressed? Step back, taking a breath and whispering a prayer. That does not fix all that has gone wrong and it does not make all of the frustration go away. It does, however, help me to treat everyone around me with the love and respect I actually feel. It teaches the discipline of not acting in the heat of the moment.” (Kate Aldrich, from her article, Giving in to Stress)
Stepping Back Rather Than Forward When Stressed
During this time of social distancing we’re being pushed into staying in our homes for longer periods of time than we would otherwise. That can brew a formula for being “too close for too long” under stressful situations. But do what you can to fight the temptation to say or do what you shouldn’t. When you’re feeling stressed, and explosive, take a breath and whisper a prayer. Do this instead of stepping forward and screaming. Agree together to give each other grace and space. And then agree to come back together to discuss the issue at a less combative time.
Here’s another suggestion during this social distancing season:
– Make yourself take a rest. This might sound strange, but some of us need to be reminded to do this. I’m one that can find work to do in a corner. That is good sometimes because I get a lot of work done. But other times (like now) it can weaken our health. But whatever is going on in your life right now:
“Be gentle with yourself, and rest in God’s gentleness with you. We all experience ups and downs during life. With this new corona virus, a lot of us have found that our daily lives have been completely upended. None of us knows how to manage life during a pandemic. The world outside is scary right now, and we’re all trying to figure out how to feel like life is normal when it may be anything but. Life just feels upside down right now. Make yourself rest. Give yourself permission to limit your to-do list. Spend time doing things that replenish you.” (Chris Taylor, from her article, “Ups and Downs and Upside Downs”)
With all that is going on in our lives because of this Virus and Social Distancing:
Above all, persevere in NOT letting yourself give in to fear. We’ve heard from a number of people who are feeling the pressure of fear. And that is certainly understandable. We find ourselves drawn in that direction at times—especially with Steve’s cancer. But we know that we only lose when we give into fear. It’s something the enemy of our faith would LOVE for us to do. The enemy would also love us to turn on each other during these uncertain times. Lets do our parts in focusing on Jesus, rather than fear. After all:
“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:27)
In Philippians 4:6-7 God tells us:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.“
And then we’re told in Jeremiah 17:7:
“Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him.“
As we go forward in this time of distress, this is our prayer for you:
“May the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!” (2 Thessalonians 3:16)
Cindy and Steve Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
To help you further, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below:
If you are not a subscriber to the Marriage Insights (emailed out weekly)
and you would like to receive them directly, click onto the following:
More from Marriage Missions
Filed under: Marriage Insights