- Unprecedented times and challenges for marriages due to COVID crisis
- Remember that you’re on the same team
- Work towards understanding each other
- Listen well to your family members
The following is a full transcript of a Facebook Live, where Susie is speaking extemporaneously – she is unscripted and unedited.
Hey friends, Susie Miller here and I’m sorry about that. I had a bad wifi connection. So we’re hoping this is better. If you can hear me, give me a thumbs up. And if the video’s working, let me know that. Today we’re going to be talking about in our Corona proof your marriage series. What if my spouse and I are not on the same page and I made some notes just so I made sure I covered the things I really wanted to share with you. First of all, let me say that these are unprecedented times and marriages that were doing well and strong and well connected, are having trouble, are struggling, are intense spots. And if your marriage was not, if you were coming into coronavirus season, can I call it that? into these hard times, then you’re probably feeling even more stress and strain.
And so one of the things that I would love for you to do is kind of draw a line in the sand and have this agreement with your spouse that we’re going to talk about this, Okay. I’m sorry if it’s not if it’s cutting in and out, not sure why. Sometimes there’s just gremlins in the internet or in the cellular towers. If that keeps happening, I will shoot a video and then upload it because I feel like this is really important information. Because it came in a question form yesterday during the live and probably last week I got half a dozen people asking me the same thing. This is where we are struggling is what if my spouse and I are not on the same page when it comes to how to handle this Coronavirus.
And so the first thing I want to invite you to do is kind of draw a line and stop trying to solve all the other problems that may be going on in your marriage anyway. And look at what can we do now to remember that we are on the same team. You know, when our kids were growing up at home, we talked about team Miller. So whatever your family is, you know, you’re on team Anderson team Corwin team we’re team Miller. What is your team? Go ahead and pop that in the comments but that is important for you as a couple and as a family to remember we’re getting through this Coronavirus because we are on the same team. We are in our family. We’re team Miller and you may need to post that on your fridge. You may need to say we are on, Jen Zatelli just joined.
We’re on team Zatelli and this is, you know, we’re getting through this together and just that visual reminder, I’m really big individual reminders because there’s so much bombarding us, you know, between social media and news and kids and pressures and jobs that I need sticky notes everywhere to remind me of truth sometimes. So maybe get a sticky note up, index card, and put on your fridge. We are all on the same team. Team Zatelli, for us team Miller for my other friend Tim Anderson and I feel like we need to remind ourselves of that. And then once we do, we are going to see that and we’re going to give ourselves this message. It’s going to come into our head and it’s going to plan itself back here subconsciously so that we are not even working hard to remember. We’re on the same team and that may sound really silly, but that’s how our brain works.
Brain science is showing that we can do so much to train our brains in new ways, to really see and learn and do things work on our behalf. And so, the part of your brain that picks up awareness of what’s around you and registers it. Have you ever been shopping for a new car and you’re looking, let’s say we were looking for an F-150 when we were coming on the road to live in our camper or tiny house or trailer for the first time. And suddenly everywhere I went I saw a Ford F150 well, I’m not a truck girl, I’ve never had trucks on my mind, but all of a sudden this part of my brain, your reticular awareness started seeing them kind of scanning the horizon and registering them. So if you have, you know, posted on your fridge, we are team
Miller, team Zatelli, team us. Yay. Every time you walk by your fridge, you’re going to see that and that’s going to start planting a seed in your mind. Every time your kids see that every time your spouse sees that, that’s going to plant that seed in your mind. We’re on the same team and so you want to start with a foundation of that. As I said before, it could be that your marriage already had some tension in it. You already had some communication issues. You might’ve shied away from conflict and this is just rising everything to the surface and so everything feels hard and the first thing I want you to do, or the second thing, the first thing is the team side is just to take a deep breath and remember that you’re going to get through this. You’re going to, you’re going to make it through this, especially if you start using these tools.
This is going to end. I know it feels interminable now to leave in a week and it might be two, three, four, six more. But what we do now to set ourselves up to handle the tension is so important. And so one of the things you’re going to do is you’re going to have this moment where you pause, you take a deep breath and you, I would actually invite you both to sit down at the table together, get your kiddos off doing something so you can have a private conversation and sit down with your spouse. And now what I’m going to do is, and this might feel very sexist, but I’m going to say your, the woman is feeling very more one of you in our family to be me feeling a little bit more nervous, anxious about a coronavirus and what to do. And my husband is a little bit less so.
And so, you know, that’s something I’ve heard from a number of my clients. Well, he’s not taking it as seriously as I am. And so we’re just going to go with that as a scenario. It might be reversing your house, but the principles are the same. And so you’re going to sit down and you’re going to address the fact that we feel like we’re at odds. And so okay. Oh my gosh. I’m going to totally pause what I’m saying because my friend Lily Lewin has done the most clever thing and I’m going to read you what she said. They have created Cheryl that she is their new housemate and their Sheryl is the, if we don’t like something that’s happening or someone forgot to take out the trash or change the thermostat without asking everybody, we blame Cheryl and she’s saying this has been an incredible stress reliever.
Lily says I’m a high anxiety person with too much information and my husband loves knowing all the details and facts. So he watches the news and the guestroom became our main TV room. That’s the room where everything else happens. And so check out that comment, but I, the idea of somebody to blame, we’ll come back to that because it might be fun to have that levity of, Oh my gosh, did you see what Cheryl did? Cheryl forgot to hose down. You know, the handle of the door when we walked outside, Cheryl forgot to do the dishes. It could be a really fun levity in your home. I love that idea, Lily. If you don’t follow Lilly Lewin, you should. She is bringing such wisdom and peace to me and the way she looks at the scriptures and the way she looks at.
I’m living this life, understanding that God is present in all of this. So thanks for sharing that Lily. Okay. So let’s go back to, you’re going to sit down with your spouse. We’re going to put Cheryl off to the side for a minute. Call whoever you want. You know, a name or the name of your husband’s worst girlfriend or somebody who has been like a bully in your life. Or somebody like somebody that’s going to make you laugh. You know, maybe you’re going to name your crazy person, Jim because Jim Carrey makes you laugh. I don’t know, but that’s a great idea. So we’re going to put that over here. Now we’re going to sit down and we’re going to say to our spouse, okay, we seem to be at odds and the tension is rising and it is not possible to ignore this tension.
It is oozing out everywhere. When we are tense and it builds up, our kids pick it up and it’s kind of like the man who comes home from a bad day at work and you know, snaps at the wife who yells at the kids who kick the dog. And it just builds. And it’s like this, excuse the analogy, but there’s big old pimple waiting to explode and everywhere. And we don’t want that. We don’t want to live in that tension because number one, that stress compromises our immune system. And one of the things we all need right now is a strong immune system. But it also compromises our communication. It compromises our connection. And we really need to communicate well and connect with the people who matter most at this point in time. And so I’m gonna tell you a couple of tips to communicate about this really, really hard thing.
So the first thing is your anxiety may be really high because you’re getting all the news. Okay. And you’re taking it all in and you know your spouse or your partner may be feeling very uncomfortable with the amount of vulnerability that we are all wrestling with for the first time ever. We are so out of control and when we’re out of control, we try to get it back somewhere. You know, we rest it from someone. And the way that they may be trying to control it is they may be trying to control it by being less aware or less upset or more low key. And it really is more of an issue of vulnerability. Now don’t sit down and say, well you just are uncomfortable being vulnerable. That’s not going to go well for you. But have that in the back of your mind.
Like there’s deeper emotions happening here. Your anxiety may be higher because of fear of things. You can’t control. His cavalierness may be higher because of vulnerability that he’s really uncomfortable with and not naming that. And so knowing that there’s so much more below the surface, kind of like that iceberg. There’s so much more below the waterline right now. We want to handle what’s above the waterline. Okay, so for all of you who just joined, one of the first steps is we are going to talk about putting up a sign that says we’re on the same team. So team moody, team, patent, you know, team graph. I want you to put a sign on your fridge that says we’re all on the same team, our team name and we’re going to get through this together. And so go ahead in the comments and put whatever your team is.
We are team graph, we are team moody. So that you actually have an action that makes you remember that. Pop that in the comments. That’ll really, really help. Jackie Bledsoe, my friend, we are on team Bledsoe. We are all on the same team. And I promise you if you put that up in a place where your family sees it, it’s going to sink into your awareness. And there’s going to be a time when you are going to be angsty or snippy and that remembering of we’re on the same team is going to pop up and so you’re going to come alongside one another. When you sit down at the dining room table with your spouse, you’re going to come along, you’re going to be like this and you’re going to say, okay, we’re feeling like this. Like we’re at odds with each other.
And one of my favorite things to do is to invite couples to come alongside one another and look at a problem together. Like teams, a Zatelli, like team Bledsoe, like team moody, yay. Way to go you guys, you are a team and when you say to your spouse, we’re on the same team, let’s look at this problem together as opposed to against each other, the tension begins to recede. Okay, now looking at the problem together, does it solve the problem that we are at odds with how we look at the problem? The next thing I want you to do, and you might even do this like sitting by side by side versus on opposite sides of the room or the table sitting close. Remember when all you wanted to do was sit close to this person who you’ve loved more than the sun and the moon will sit close to them.
Maybe take their hand and go, okay, tell me what your thoughts are. The first thing you’re going to do is you’re going to listen well. So your spouse might say things like, you know what? I don’t want our whole family to be worried about this all the time. I don’t want us to be walking around with gloves on or handy wipes or you know, hosing down everybody when we’ve been in the same house for the same hours like nobody’s been exposed. Can we relax over here? I’m feeling XYZ and give them space. Give them room to express themselves. Your only job in that moment while you have two jobs, your first job is to pause your brain and pay attention. Most of us listen, waiting for the person to finish so we can tell them what we think. Very few of us, and this is a lesson I’ve worked really hard on pause and really pay attention to what the other person is saying, not thinking about what we want to say in response, so you’re going to pause and you’re going to listen and then you’re going to say these words.
What I hear you saying is, and you’re going to basically repeat what you’ve heard them saying, not your commentary on what you heard them say. For example, I heard you say that when we’re in the same house for hours on end, you would prefer that I am not wiping down. The kids are washing hands again and again because we’ve not been exposed to any outside germs. Is that what you’re saying? And then the person who said it gets to say yes, no, or correct it. What you might want to say is, all the reasons you’re doing it or why it’s valid. This is not the time for that. This is simply a time to listen and reply with what I hear you saying is, and here’s the reason folks, we all want to feel seen, heard, and known. And that happens when we’re listened to, not agreed with, but listen to what I hear you saying is, and you know, so you’ll get a picture of what they’re really thinking and feeling and it might shift a bit of how you’re handling things underneath all that.
Cleaning and washing might be creating anxiety for somebody who just wants to be calm, you know, so listen, and is there anything else? Is there anything else? Did I get that right? Okay. So now we understand what you feel. Now it’s your turn and you’re going to say how you feel. I feel like, you know, I need to stay abreast of the news and so I want to check it every, you know, hour. And that really is how I’m going to stay on top of things. And that’s going to help me be aware of what we need for our family. Now, your spouse might want to say, well, you shouldn’t check it every 30 minutes or every hour. This isn’t the time for that. What I hear you saying, honey, is you really want to stay abreast of what’s happening. You’re afraid you’re going to miss something that’s important for our family.
Yes. Okay. Anything that you hear and take in that they’re saying, second step that you can affirm that you can validate. So in this case, I would invite the husband to say you know, I really appreciate that you want to stay on top of things for our family that exhibits care and concern. Okay? He might be like, but you don’t need to be on it that often, or you’re just making yourself more anxious. All that commentary stays in his brain doesn’t come out of his mouth. The same goes for you. Remember, this goes vice versa, but it gives you a place to kind of lean into each other and see the best of each other. See the good in each other, see the gold, see the things that are really for team Miller, team moody, team Speroni, team Bledsoe. What are you saying? What’s happening. That’s really for us.
Okay, get those on the table and then you’re already increasing understanding. The next thing you do is you talk about what do you really need in this moment so you’re if I’m going to go with this example, I need to stay abreast of what’s happening in the world so I make sure I’m doing what’s best for our family. Okay? I need you to not be on my case about how many times I check the news. Okay? We write those things down. He does the same thing. I need to feel like we cleaned enough and I’m getting just using the examples I came up with. If you have specific examples where you’ve had arguments, pop them in the comments and I’ll handle those verbatims in this call. Okay? But it could be, I don’t want us to walk. This is one that comes from our house.
My husband goes to the store and when he comes home, I’m sure he hasn’t washed his hands enough and so I can kind of be like, well, have you done this? Have you described the back of your hands? Did you, did you touch anything in the store? And all of that anxiety raises in me, and he may say, I need you to trust me that I care enough about you and to protect you, that I’m going to do a good job washing my hands on. And so we’re going to watch that and, Hey Christian, we’re going to, we’re going to list those needs out. Okay. And they may be extreme, no reaction to them. You just want to understand what the person is asking for, you know? So in that case, my husband is asking me to trust him that he’s washed his hands. Okay?
So the next thing you’re going to do, and this is a statement I want you to write down, I feel loved and cared for when you or I would feel loved and cared for if you would fill in the blank. Okay? So for me, I would say to John, I would feel loved and cared for. If when you’re done washing your hands, you just remind me, Hey, I did a really good job washing my hands. I’m protecting us. No worries hun. You know so that I’m not worried about and watching like a Hawk. Did you watch him the right way? Did he do this the right way? Cause there’s a right way to wash your hands. We’ve all learned that now that is very different than you should. You need to, I demand are even I need it gives your partner, your spouse the chance to go, huh, I want my wife or I want my husband to feel loved and cared for and I can do that by XYZ.
So let’s go back to the anxiety thing. Your spouse may say to you, I would feel loved and cared for if you turned on the news only two or three times a day so that we didn’t get the anxiety. What’s happening in the world, in our home so much because I noticed honey, that it ratchets you up. Okay? So when I want to turn on the news then or I want to check something or I want to get that dopamine hit because my anxiety is high, I can think in my head he would feel loved and cared for. If I don’t do this and suddenly not doing something that feels urgent or, or doing something differently that is not really in our nature or in our bent becomes easier because of the reason why we’re doing it. Suddenly we’re doing it because we love and care for our spouse.
Okay? So when we, when we sit down and take those lists of needs and maybe pick two or three, okay, we can’t handle them all. Some of them we’re just going to have to agree to disagree and kind of negotiate and okay, you do your thing, honey. If you want to wipe the counters, you know, every hour on the hour, that could be, you know, not one of my top three. So you’re gonna pick your top three because again, we’re living in tense times. We can’t address everything. And you know, you only have so much time to handle each thing. You don’t want to get mired down in every little detail. So pick your top three things. You know, if you need to wipe the counters every hour on the hour and that reduces your anxiety, you may be able to say to him, Hey, this I will feel loved and cared for.
If you don’t roll your eyes at me when you see me wiping the counters every hour on the hour. If you trust this is the way that I calm my anxiety, can you see how that actually makes a difference in how we approach each other and how we connect with each other, and how we communicate with each other about what’s going on beneath the waterline. Because what’s going on up here, these little things, that’s really not what’s bothering us. It’s this deeper stuff. I mean, we’re wiping the counter because it gives us a sense of control, you know? It gives us a sense of I can do this to help keep my family safe and when we can name those things with our spouse, we’re able to connect on what’s really going on. So then take those top three, use the language I would feel loved and cared for if you would.
And ask for what you need. It may be against his wiring to wipe the counters off or to wash his hands for 20 seconds, but would he or she do it for you because they loved you? I sure think so. I sure think so. And it takes us back to those times when what we did with one another and for one another was born of that, that love that was over the top, over the moon. Everything they do is wonderful as opposed to most of what they do is getting on my very last nerve. It takes us back to some of those times when we had a lot more grace for each other. A lot more understanding. And I think if we’re going to survive this time in Corona proof our marriage, one of the biggest things we’re going to need to do on top of communicating and connecting is doing that with a whole lot of grace, a whole lot of understanding, a whole lot of benefit of the doubt.
So when things kind of go sideways, you absolutely can. Say, okay, wait, what’s the benefit of the doubt? How do I give him or her the benefit of the doubt here and it may even be needing to remind them, okay, remember when we talked on Tuesday and we said I would feel loved and cared for if you didn’t do this or if you did that, could we go back to that place? Hey, this could be an exercise you do with your kids. You know, your fridge could be full of your team name and the things that we’re doing for each other because these are unprecedented times. We’ve never done this before. As a, as a culture, as a group of people and at the age we’re at our parents and our grandparents did hard stuff with you know, world war two and you know, my mom talks about her mom’s stories about the depression era, but we’ve never been through, yes we did not 11 yes, we’ve had hard times.
I’m not saying we haven’t had hard times, but this is an unprecedented global health crisis that is affecting us all. All of us feel out of control. All of us feel anxious. All of us are wrestling with vulnerability, whether we name it or not. So what can you do to come alongside one another and fight for team Miller, Team moody, team Henry, team Bledsoe, whatever you can do, that’s what I want you to focus on. So I hope that helps you move, kind of move the needle forward in your marriage as you kind of navigate this time in Corona proof your marriage. I’ll be back tomorrow and we’ll be talking again about how to survive and create better relationships with God, yourself, and others during this very, very new crisis. Thanks for joining me. If you have specific questions, pop them in the comments so that I can make sure I handle them in one of the lives. We’re just going to kind of keep talking and let’s talk about what we need to do to get through this together. If you need some Sanity savers, hop over to bitly.com Susie dash sanity savers, and I have a printable you can put on your fridge right next to your team sign. I’ll see y’all tomorrow and I hope you have a good, peaceful, connected, great communication kind of day.