I get it.
Marriage is hard.
Marriage under quarantine is, shall we say, harder.
You want a hack, right?
A shot of hope and help.
A form of marital morphine.
In a glance and in an article.
I’ve spent a long time looking. Many years in graduate school followed by many more becoming a psychoanalyst. 15 years inside of a marriage of my own. 5 kids to boot.
I should know by now, yes?
But then, quarantine hit.
The game changed.
Even the most benign marriages I know got harder.
But, what about the ones that were already full of challenges?
Kinda like skydiving without a proper parachute.
What if the guardrails were activity?
What happens when you can’t drain the strain through getting busy anymore?
What if you have to face the issues being busy had freed you from?
I asked Google.
Google gave me mundane marital advice.
Told me to take a walk. (One with my spouse, another without.)
Exercise. Yes, of course, hard to argue with.
Have some solitary space. Sound counsel, but there must be more.
If I would have been holding the articles, I might have shredded them.
But since they were digital, I kept scrolling.
More of the same.
Basic advice, repackaged.
New bows, new wrapping. Lackluster insides.
What could make marriage in an almost unbearable season, bearable? Or even better?
What if there was one tip, that could help your marriage?
One tip, I could promise you, would dull the edges of pain and soften the walls of quarantine.
I have it.
You might not like it.
But I have it.
One question: Are you ready?
The number one thing you can do to improve your marriage is to bite your tongue.
(Even if it threatens to bleed.)
(Even if it does bleed.)
Bite your tongue.
Marital wars are won here in this regiment of restraint.
By biting your tongue, you retain your power by not bounding into battle.
You elevate yourself high above provocation.
You slip out the snare of a nonsensical duel.
You remain fortified and poised; unwilling to cash in your stature, your power, or peace of mind for a quip, a tiny turn of the knife.
This biting of our tongues is sexier than losing our minds and frothing at the mouth over a wayward word, no?
We want to stay sexy, not get scary, don’t we?
Case and point.
We make french press coffee every morning.
We have a luxury cream frothier that whips out steamed and foaming cream.
I am the first in line for it every morning.
I use, rinse, and set aside for my later rising husband.
A fair share of the mornings, I hear my husband fuss about the frothier’s not being sparkling clean. (Even when it is.)
As soon as I hear the murmuring, his transgressions start to brim over into my imagination: socks on the floor, the unmade bed, the food scarred pan from last night’s midnight snack, spilled wine.
My tongue is poised and ready. Like a sword: eager to engage and up the ante.
You feel me, right?
But, if I respond to the mumbling, tension mounts.
Mutual snarling begins and the atmosphere gets soaked with strain.
More edge. More ugly.
Are you with me?
However, on a better day, I hear the grumbling yet I do not take the bait.
I bite my tongue, let it slide. Hush the tempting rebuttals in my head and, VOILA, waters calm.
The flare blows out like a match.
An easier way to live, right?
These decisions we make in a flash change everything.
The choices are ever before us.
Here is what we know: quarantine is stressful.
Nerves are thin and frayed.
We have ample opportunity to feel cagey and restless.
Yet, we must do our part.
Find the good in our spouse.
Count their virtues.
Hunt down their beauty.
Know their incredible worth and take the honorable stance.
Sacrifice the little battles, win the war for marriage, and win the war for love.
And to do this, we lean into one tip. Easy peasy.
Bite your tongue.
Stop engaging, stop taking the bait.
Let the storm pass.
Use this time well.
Learn to weather the words spoken in a tremendous time of stress.
Make a decision to come out of quarantine better than we started.
Oh, and where to start? Start by biting your tongue.
In fact, I am so entirely confident that this will help you, and help your marriage, that I want you to invite you to take a 10-day Bite-Your-Tongue Challenge with me.
For the next 10 days, no matter what your partner says; no matter what little jab they make, what sarcastic comment is spoken, or what bait is thrown out for you to catch, bite your tongue. Whatever comment could possibly be taken the wrong way, you simply ignore it.
Now, go and find the fruit of this habit for yourself.
Don’t just take my word for it. Give it a 10-day test drive.
As an incentive for the 10-day Challenge, (only for the brave), I can promise you: if you hold your tongue, you will hold your power.
If you bite your tongue, you can keep your peace.
Simple equations in complicated times help, don’t they?
I want us to part knowing this: Your words create your world.
And if our words won’t serve us, let’s agree to bite our tongues, shall we?
C.C. Evans-Puglise, MA,, MFT, PsyD is a Psychoanalyst & Concierge Mindset Coach and is absolutely passionate about helping men and women breakthrough the ceilings in their thinking so they can soar.