Establishing the New Norm of Your Marriage

By Andrea and Gavin Carrier

How often can something happen that if you were to ask your parents or any older couple, “have you seen anything like this before?”, they would say, “I have never seen anything like this before.”  I would say that we are living in a season like that right now with COVID-19. This is NEW experience! While we can’t say the world has never seen anything like this ever before, we can say this is for sure a rare event that is happening to us right now.
For many of us, what this pandemic means is stay at home all the time:  That could be good news or bad news, depending on the temperature in your home.  Now more than ever I believe God is inviting us to work toward a healthy marriage.  We have an opportunity to establish a NEW NORMAL.  I believe God would have us more than just survive this season, and do more than just endure extra, every-minute time with our spouses.  I think this is an opportunity to grow and learn what Philippians 2:2-4 says:

“2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

In the Spirit of this Philippians passage, here are 5 encouragements to help establish a new normal that my wife, Andrea, and I prayed about and want to offer you in this unusual time.

1) Get on the same Page:  Consider different categories where you might not be on the same page, expectations are everything right now!  Fear: perhaps one of you is more apathetic towards this pandemic, but your spouse is hypervigiliant!  Finances:  perhaps one of you wants to hunker down and save every last penny, and your spouse is wanting to be generous to those in need right now.  Schedule:  there are a lot of new normals going on in your home with school, cooking, work, etc..  Deciding who does what is important.  Communicating expectations is even more important! Listening to each other is perhaps the MOST important!!

In the first few days of this new normal, I, Gavin, continued with performing a wedding and other meetings, while Andrea was taking social distancing very serious with herself and our kids.  She was doing this to protect me (I am a type-1 diabetic)!  We had to talk about this and get on the same page of how we would approach this going forward.

Realize though that getting on the same page does not mean you will land on exactly the same page, but it does mean you need to at LEAST SHOW COMPASSION AND RESPECT FOR YOUR SPOUSES PAGE.  I talked with one couple where the spouse is an ER doctor.  He feels called to care for and help his patients, and his wife is fearful for the health of her husband and her kids.  This is where we can live in tension and still support each other.  The ER doctor can reassure his spouse’s fears, listen compassionately, and take extra precautions while helping others.  His spouse can be watchful of fear taking control and work at being supportive of her husband’s calling to respond to this pandemic by nobly helping others.  They can be a team and share each other’s concerns.

2) Pull the Same Weight:  All our worlds are one now: school, home, work are now compressed into one home environment.  It is important to tackle this together and look for opportunities to take on the load and serve each other at this time.  Specifically to the spouses that work out of the home, I want to say, watch domestic passivity!  Often the best energies of your day are given at work, this is an opportunity to give some of your energy to your child’s education, to cleaning alongside the spouse that may tend to do more of the cleaning, to make sure whoever cooks does not have to do the dishes.  We may have to shake off boredom or depression that might be setting in, but don’t abandon your spouse and the things that must be done in this time period.

3) Create 2 Kinds of Space:  The first kind of space is actually space for you as a couple!  We are hearing of creative ideas for dates:  pick up drive through food and sit in your car or outside in some scenic place, have a front/back porch date time (no kids allowed), go for a daily walk.  The point is to make sure you are having some alone time with just your spouse to connect.

The other type of space is “alone” space.  Be in tune enough with your spouse to know when getting away for just a bit may be helpful.  Encourage your spouse to exercise or just retreat for a time.  This is a gift that you can give each other to gather yourself and reset.  Even Jesus took time to be alone with His Father.

4) Be Self-watchful:  Remember that pressure and stress doesn’t make us do anything, but it does reveal what may be controlling our heart in a given moment.  Ask yourself: What is being revealed right now?  What are your fears telling you is most important to you right now?  Where are you looking for security?  Where are you struggling to have control?  It is important to be self-watchful for when we are triggered to boredom, irritability, selfishness, and the rest.  We want to catch these things early, because small reactions may lead to more sinful bigger reactions that can turn your home into an unpleasant place.  We want to make sure we are not running to destructive habits at this time to self-medicate that may hurt us and our whole family in the process.

5) Seek Kind Opportunities: When you see the little reactions in response to stress from your spouse, take the opportunity to respond with kindness.  As Andrea is helping our kids with school, getting her own students going on-line (she is a teacher), doing laundry, I can see the pressure weighing on her.  Now is the chance to ask, “How can I help?”  Now is the time for a quick shoulder rub. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted”   Now is the time for kindness.  Our marriage is meant to be gift as we have a partner to help us through times like this.  We can grow closer together when we help each other through this.  And make sure it is not just words, my wedding ring has the following verse inscribed inside:  1 John 3:18 “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth”.  So, clean the dishes.  Organize a family game.   Whatever it is, bless your spouse!  Establish a new normal!!

While we hope this gave you some helpful ideas, to establish the new normal of your marriage takes more than reading a blog post.  This was a talk delivered at Virtual ReEngage marriage ministry.  We have large group testimonies and small group interactions on-line right now to help your marriage and to help in this time of isolation.  Join us this next Wednesday night at 7:30pm-9pm.  We are taking new comers even now!!  

Go to the website at www.faithbibleonline.org/reengage/ to register or e-mail reengage@faithbible.church to get an invite to our virtual platform!
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