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Hi, my name is Emily Simonian and I’m a Licensed Clinician at Thriveworks in Washington DC. The question that was asked was, “What keeps a marriage healthy during COVID-19?” And my first thought is what keeps a marriage or any relationship healthy even on a regular basis, not just during the pandemic. And there are a few widely accepted ideas about that in the marriage and family therapy field.

So healthy relationships are generally believed to have things like open communication, flexibility, a certain level of connection, respect, obviously and healthy boundaries. So considering those and also taking into consideration maybe most importantly, the healthiest couples are able to move through conflict. And I say move through and not resolve very specifically because researchers in the field have found that the way that we argue without using defensiveness, contempt, criticism, or ignoring or avoiding completely is sometimes much more important than the actual resolution of an argument.

But specifically relating to this unique time and a stay at home orders, I’d say that we want to be cognizant of communicating our needs to our partners. So things like who needs more alone time, who needs more connection. And I think the more specific you can be with your partner, the better. Sometimes we need to spell it out and that’s okay.

Also, I would think about how you’re spending your time together. I’ve heard lots of couples saying that they’re spending time side by side as opposed to face to face. And spending time side by side can be great—great quality time watching movies, just enjoying each other’s company. But we want to make sure that we aren’t living parallel lives and falling into the habit of just coexisting instead of connecting. So carving out quality time to really be present with your partner can go a long way.

And of course we have other priorities and other things that are needing our time. But prioritizing your relationship, which can look like scheduling you know, at-home date nights or if you have kids trying to make sure that you make time just for the two of you to step outside of your parenting roles. Or maybe even, you know, powering down electronics or if you’re able to ducking out of an online work obligation a little early, just doing those little things to really communicate to your significant other that we are important; our marital friendship is important.

And our relationship needs time, attention, and energy just says as much, if not more than anything else we have going on right now in our lives. So I hope that you found some of this helpful. I hope that you stay safe and I thank you for watching.