Home is where the heart is.
Instead of bickering while quarantined together, some married couples are using this time at home to strengthen their relationship.
“We really wanted to grow into our marriage,” Kimberly Amici, a family culture coach and podcast host, tells The Post of her relationship with her husband of 20 years, Carl.
Carl says they’ve been “re-appreciating” time with each other and their three kids in their Glendale, New Jersey, home — and it’s helping to keep stress levels down.
Marriage and family therapist Dr. Judi Bloom is urging couples stuck indoors to do the same. “Now is the time to really get to know your loved one on a deeper level,” she tells The Post.
For most people, the close-quarters living is undoubtedly causing strain. Last week, The Post reported that tensions are high for some New York spouses who are already at each other’s throats.
In some cases, it’s leading to permanent splits. One New York attorney saw a 50-percent jump in divorce inquiries this week and said many of his colleagues are seeing a similar spike.
But Bloom says this doesn’t need to be a time of stress. Instead, it can be used as a couple’s retreat, of sorts, and a new opportunity to reconnect. “This is a chance to deepen your relationship, to really get to know yourself,” she says.
Partners should be open about their fears and emotions during this time, Bloom suggests.
The Amicis have been working their way through a marriage devotional book in the mornings, which prompts them to open up to each other about a new topic each day. “That’s given us space to talk about things that we haven’t before,” says Kimberly.
Bloom suggests another activity called reflective listening: “One person talks and the other person just listens,” she says. Then, the listener repeats back everything the speaker said to them. After, switch positions. “It cuts right through the defensiveness,” says Bloom.
Since you can’t go outside, try to schedule indoor dates. Bloom suggests movie time, dancing or playing games.
At 5 p.m. each night, Kimberly and Carl have started sharing a craft I.P.A. beer. “That’s kind of a new normal,” he says. Later at night, they’ve been trying to have “date night in.”
“We try to take time to think of something we can do together, to sit down together for 45-minutes or an hour. And we definitely don’t get to do that normally, because we’re always running around,” says Kimberly.
Bloom also recommends heading to the bedroom for a little “hanky-panky.”
Dr. Mehmet Oz is in agreement: He suggests this is the best way couples can relieve the tension between each other. “It’s certainly better than staring at each other and getting on each other’s nerves,” he says.
Don’t be afraid: New York health officials say that besides sex with yourself, sex with a healthy person whom you live with is the next best option. “Having close contact — including sex — with a small circle of people helps prevent spreading COVID-19,” guidelines read. (However, you may want to turn down the kink and keep your tongues out of specific orifices.)
But don’t think you have to spend every moment together. Bloom says to “schedule sufficient alone time” away from each other. “Boundaries are important here, so set yours,” she says.
Since you will both most likely be working at home, you should set up separate “offices,” Bloom advises.
This is the one area that’s been a tough adjustment for the Amicis. Kimberly, who normally works from home, says, “It’s like he’s in my space. And now he’s sitting on the other side of my desk.” While she’s used to quiet while writing, Carl, who works in finance, spends his day chatting. “I am surprised that you talk all day long. That’s all he does. All I do is I sit in quiet,” says Kimberly.
To help with the different styles, they’ve tried to be as honest about their needs as possible. Since they’re right next to each other all day, there’s “a false expectation of availability,” says Kimberly. They are upfront about when they can have conversations and help each other, and when they need to focus.
The Amicis also set aside time to connect with each other and their kids. “It’s a little bit of an opportunity to rebuild. We’re using this extra family time and this lack of distraction and commitment to do stuff together,” says Carl.
“We’ve been placing a high priority on having fun together,” says Kimberly. “We really have to remind ourselves that’s what we’re going to remember at the end of this, not how clean our room was.”