One day before the Movement Control Order was enforced, a friend remarked how some married couples were looking at this quarantine period as their second honeymoon.
However soon after, reports began pouring in about how marriage registration offices in Xi’an of Shaanxi Province in north-western China were recording an unprecedented rise in divorce applications since reopening.
As a result of the pandemic, many couples forced to spend prolonged periods of time together, began to have arguments as a result of underlying conflicts and disagreements that were now brought to the surface. Small weaknesses and shortcomings that were brushed aside before, started to become obvious and almost unbearable.
One internet user revealed that simple issues like who should cook or wash the dishes led to big arguments between husband and wife.
Another internet user wrote: “Before the outbreak, I could understand that he was busy at work and neglected the family but now he is so free and yet, he is not helping out with little chores or taking care of our child.”
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a “shortcoming” is defined as the failure to reach a particular standard. For many, it is the failure in meeting a particular person’s expectations.
What are your standards or expectations? Most people think: “It is common sense! He or she should know their responsibility! Do I really have to say it?”
What’s worse is that some communicate their standards or expectations through scolding or by silence when they’re having a cold war, expecting the other to know what they want.
All these unmet expectations that are often interpreted as “you don’t really love me”, foster feelings of anger, bitterness, and disappointment which can eventually break a relationship.
If you encounter similar challenges like those couples in China, don’t worry. Here are some tips that could work.
1. Don’t criticise, condemn or complain
You have a bigger problem to fight – Covid-19, not our spouse. Remember that your spouse doesn’t really know what you’re thinking or what your expectations are, and they might be as worried as you but express it in a different way.
2. Talk to your spouse but begin in a friendly way
Keep calm and be conscious of the intention that you want to work things out. Choose a suitable time to have an open conversation with your spouse.
Share your feelings, thoughts, and expectations in a non-judgemental way. It should not be a blame game.
3. Be a good listener
Once you’ve shared your feelings, let your spouse share theirs. Be a good listener and hear your spouse out.
Remember not to cut your spouse off. Be patient and listen with an open heart. It’s not about who’s right or wrong. It’s about understanding your spouse’s points of view and their emotions.
4. Seek alignment
After both of you have had the opportunity to share, it’s time to seek alignment and reach an agreement as to how to move forward to build a more blissful family during this crucial time. Remember, your enemy is Covid-19, not our spouse.
To sustain cordial relations at all times, always begin with praise and honest appreciation. And acknowledge even the slightest improvements you see.
This may be easier said than done. But there is reading material that can help give guidance along the way. A highly recommended read is Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”
You will gain a deeper understanding of the principles and gain more insights on how to deal with different people.
It is up to you to choose the outcome after this quarantine together. Do you want to have a happy ending with a stronger relationship or end the marriage altogether?
The choice is yours.
Wong Pui Cheng is a Performance Consultant at Dale Carnegie Malaysia.