I'm Holly Lebowitz Rossi, writer of the Guideposts blog, A Positive Path. My message of hope today is a tip that has helped my marriage during the long months of togetherness during the pandemic.
My husband, Rob, our 10-year-old son, and I are all working and learning from home, and we all have different schedules and responsibilities. At one point, Rob and I recognized that we were snapping at each other more than we'd like, and we pinpointed interruptions as the culprit.
We noted both the benefit and the challenge of being so close to each other, so easily able to pop our heads into each other's spaces with a grocery list addition or a vent about a frustrating tech glitch. Add the inevitable interruptions of a child whose fourth grade experience is entirely online, and the cumulative aggravation makes sense. So, we agreed to start a simple practice that has had a noticeable, positive impact on our marital happiness. It's so simple, it's almost embarrassing.
All we do is ask each other, "Do you have a second?," before we start talking. Then, we wait for a response before we launch. If the answer is, "Not right now," we step away and either put our burning questions into a text or email or wait to bring them up the next time we're both free to talk. This might sound like a small thing, but it really has made a difference.
Each time we ask, "Do you have a second?," what we're really saying to each other is, "I see you. I value your time. I want your attention when you have the space to give it to me, and I appreciate that you value me in the same way."
Now, this practice is neither a grouchiness antidote nor a magic wand, but it has been a helpful baseline to set and encourage ourselves to return to on those days when the walls seem closer and thinner than they did yet yesterday. I hope a simple practice like this might help you ease tension and live with authentic positivity in your own marriage, during the long pandemic and afterward.