tips to avoid quarantine divorce

How to Avoid a Coronavirus Quarantine Divorce

The quarantine memes all over the internet have spoken.  Once quarantine life and shelter in place is over, bathing suit season may be canceled, but the divorce season is coming in full force.  People are growing tired of the mundane day to day routine, the pressures of distance learning and homeschooling, running a household, putting in a fully remote workday, and trying to balance it all with self-care.  Tensions are running high and attitudes are at large.  Financial insecurity is problematic.  Perhaps you or your spouse is furloughed or lost your job and the stress of mounting bills and providing for your family is taking its toll.  Everyone is tired of being home, and the uncertainty of when this will end is anxiety-inducing, creating short tempers.  

7 Quarantine Tips from a Divorce Lawyer 

However, there are ways to manage the chaos and uncertainty of quarantine so as to ensure that you won’t be spending your money on divorce court when all of this is all over.

Tip #1: Communication is key.

A significant number of divorcing couples have issues with communicating properly, even without an international pandemic.  If you don’t communicate your needs to your partner, they likely will not read your mind.  Tell your partner what you need.  Do you need dedicated time in the mornings to answer emails? Maybe it is time away from the house to run or exercise.  Perhaps you need some downtime to relax and read a book, or you are growing frustrated daily by the pile of laundry no one else seems to ever touch except you.  Communicating with your partner is the key to letting them know what they can do to make you happy and feel more at ease.  Sitting down with your partner and discussing these things, or sending an email if direct communication is an issue, 

Tip #2: Make time for self-care.

Get outside and go for a walk.  Exercise.  Start a new book.  Clean out a closet.  Take a class online (photography class, a cooking lesson),  Join a virtual trivia team.  Make plans with friends to have a virtual poker night or a girls’ night.  Do something that is for you, every day.  There are plenty of free online streaming exercise classes right now.  There are meditation apps, and more.  Trying something new you haven’t done before can be empowering, and taking time for yourself is key.

Tip #3: Plan an Agenda for your days.

If both you and your spouse are working from home, it can be complicated.  Perhaps you are in a small apartment where it is difficult to be away from each other.  Perhaps you have children who are loud, making it difficult for you to do your Zoom conferences.  At the beginning of each week, it is helpful to talk to your partner about the week ahead — when your calls are scheduled, when you need to be at your desk, any meetings, etc.  Even having a shared calendar and putting your work commitments on it lets each other know what the plan is.  If you have small children and are without childcare, plan out who will watch the children at which time, and who will switch.  Who will wake up with them and make breakfast? Who will handle bath time?  If your children have e-learning, look at that schedule, and divide the work by agreement.  Structure is the key to this time at home.

Tip #4: Carve out time for you and your significant other.

There are plenty of things that couples can do to spend time together, even when sheltering in place.  Have a happy hour together.  Order in dinner, or rent a movie.  Do a household improvement project together, or organize something together.  It is important to spend time together as a couple, not only when engaging with work or children. 

Tip #5: Divide the chores.

The household chores simply cannot fall on one person, period.  Even a parent who is unemployed has e-learning to handle, which constitutes a full-time job.  We are all now workers, teachers, house cleaners, parents, babysitters, and more.  These jobs are separate for a reason, it is incredibly stressful to do it all.  So, divide the housework.  Young children can put their clothes in a hamper and help load and unload the laundry machines.  They can feed a pet and put their dishes in the sink.  Older children can load and empty the dishwasher, help with vacuuming, and help with laundry.  Perhaps one person does dishes and the other person is in charge of laundry.  (Note that laundry folding parties while watching tv shows together can count as both a chore and time together as a couple!)  If these things fall on only one person, they will become resentful and it can cause a rift in a relationship.

Tip #6: Re-work your budget together.

Changing times calls for reworking finances.  Much of the funds that were previously spent on transportation, dining out, or for entertainment can be saved or put to other uses, like the growing grocery bills due to quarantine.  Now is a great time to sit down and re-evaluate your budget.  If someone is spending too much money on movie rentals or Amazon, set a budget.  Make sure both you and your spouse understand the financial arrangements and plan for the future, together.  Money is one of the number one things that divorced couples don’t see eye-to-eye on so discussing it and being open about this hot topic it is helpful in avoiding conflict.

Tip #7: Set Boundaries and have a plan regarding your children. 

Perhaps you find yourself growing more and more impatient with your children as you try to juggle working and e-learning at the same time.  Perhaps you cannot work because your young child is craving your attention.  It can be easy to become impatient and lose your cool.  Some couples set up a code word for when they need a break.  The rule can be that you can walk away for five minutes to cool down if you say the code word and the other party knows you are about at your breaking point when you say it.  It could be something as simple as “Tag! You’re it!” and set rules for what happens when someone says the code word, and then respect those rules.

These times are different than anyone has ever seen before and it is trying the patience of married couples around the world.  Making sure that you have a plan to manage quarantine life and are on the same page will ensure that your marriage survives this situation.

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