On the 23rd of March, the president made me the happiest man in the world!
Myself with my beautiful wife in LOCKDOWN!
What more can a man need!? I had to pinch myself. I was going to be with my wife 24/7 for 3 whole weeks, for the first time in our 13 years of marriage.
But there were some developments and by the time you’re reading this, the President extended the lockdown, and it turns out that the lockdown duration will be 40 days (26 March to 4 May). Woo-hoo!
But for the rest of South Africa, 40 DAYS!? What a scary thought!
Just take a moment and think about it. Not only do South Africans have to deal with no sports, no takeaways, no alcohol, no toilet-paper (seriously South Africa), but families are isolating themselves between the same four walls.
The same thing is on everybody’s tongues: Nobody in the country has any experience dealing with something like this.
Experiencing God’s peace more than ever before;
The biggest thing is just routine;
Begin with the end in mind;
No man (or woman) is an island;
All of these were already part of our daily lives, but it soon became apparent that we had to take it to the next level. (I’ll get back to this a bit later.)
What I do want to share today is our habits that we not only practiced in this four weeks of lockdown, but that we practice on a daily basis to help us level up our marriage.
Let me share with you a story. Now this is a true story, but also a made-up story.
You may be asking how can that be?
Well I truly made it up.
Somewhere in the distant future there is a supreme chancellor bent on conquest. Mounted on his white steed and armed with his bow, he summoned his three horsemen.
His general, on his fiery red horse and armed with a sword, he commanded to take his armies and wage war against the world.
The general saluted him with a smile and disappeared into the skies, leaving a fiery trail behind him to go and organize his army.
Next in line was the supreme chancellor’s saboteur. He was holding up a pair of scales. Famine and Thirst, his two scorpions were going at each other as the scales randomly tipped into each other’s favour.
His order was to destroy the farms, and food production facilities of the world. Without any indication of acknowledgement his nightmare materialised from a hole in the ground, picked him up and they vanished from sight.
Last up was the mad… alchemist. With his white coat, spiky hair and aviator goggles he was busy juggling three viles. One contained the black plague, the other the spanish flu and the last one the chancellor couldn’t even pronounce.
While the other two are playing command & conquer he would be sowing his seeds of pestilence.
He was so excited to leave, he fumbled with a vile… Once, and dropped it. It tumbled to the ground, ending up on the floor with a big crash, but it didn’t brake.
The alchemist broke into a mini victory dance, but accidently crushed it under his foot, where a pale gas escaped forming into the shape of a horse which engulfed him. Histerical laughter echoed on the wind as the alchemist with his horse evaporated into nothingness.
I can understand if you’re scratching your head thinking – This suspiciously sounds like the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse.
And you’re right. Conquest leads to war, and war leads to famine which in turn leads to pestilence.
But in a marriage context this can also have a cumulative effect. Contempt causes instability in the relationship leading to criticism. Defensivenes follows criticism, and when malnourishment occurs and the social system breaks down, spouses are more susceptible to stonewalling.
That is why I want to introduce you to…
The first horseman is respectful.
When you respect your spouse, you’re saying to your spouse that you accept him/her just as he/she is.
In our relationship Andrea is my equal, which means that neither of us have authority over the other.
Respect also means, that I may not always agree with Andrea’s decisions, but I choose to trust her and put faith in her judgement.
The second horseman is complimenting.
Ensuring the success of your marriage is partly dependent on how both parties show gratitude for each other.
One of the ways I show Andrea how grateful I am is by complimenting her regularly. By complimenting her I focus on the positive I see in her.
The good thing is that compliments are simple and cost nothing. I make sure that I compliment her a couple of times a day.
The third horseman is affectionate.
Affection is an expression of care. It is a symbol of security, protection, comfort and approval. These are vital ingredients for a healthy marriage.
For Andrea and myself, this is the essential cement of our marriage.
Ongoing displays of affection feed and strengthen our marriage. Me giving Andrea a simple hug goes a long way in increasing the affection quotient of our marriage.
The fourth horseman is cooperative.
Say the words, ask the question. One of the keys to developing a cooperative relationship is communication.
Communication in our marriage is like a river. When thoughts and feelings flow smoothly between Andrea and I it’s fun, feels good and helps support us.
So make an agreement to cooperate with your spouse, rather than to compromise or compete. It can lead you to a whole new level of connection and communication.
But wait, let’s quickly talk about…
I mentioned him right at the beginning – our new normal.
Experiencing God’s peace – But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Spend time in the Word, Pray and trust God that he will provide. God is still on the throne, this too shall pass.
Find equilibrium – Between business and pleasure.
Andrea and I are privilaged to be able to work from home during this time, and so we’ve converted a separate room into an office. But it is very easy to carry on working, and before we know it, we’ve clocked a 12 hour day.
So that is why early on we decided to clock our 8 hours, close the door, and only open it when we’re ready to work again the next day.
Another bonus we capitalise on, is to enjoy 3 meals a day together. Not only does it give us a bit of a break from work and the office, but
our marriage is more fun and fulfilling because of it.
The biggest thing is just routine – A bit of self-discipline killed no one.
We had a routine before lockdown, so we still stick to our routine during lockdown.
We set the alarm. In the morning I take the dogs for their call of nature, feed them, get Andrea’s bath and breakfast ready, gently ease her into the new day and so on and so forth until we’re good to go and ready for work.
We get all dressed up – no we don’t have a set of day pajamas and a set of night pajamas – as we would do for work and we stick to three healthy meals a day.
For us routine means breaking our day up into smaller tasks where one builds onto the other, until we have enough momentum going that our day runs like butter.
Begin with the end in mind – A little planning can go a long way.
During lockdown we’ve been planning on a day by day basis. I mean it’s not like we’re going anywhere that we’ve to plan further ahead.
Come to think of it, there are only two things we plan for:
– What are we going to eat for lunch; and
– What are our work related tasks and meetings we need to attend for the day.
After lunch we have a quick discussion on what we’re going to have for dinner and then we make a bit extra to have for lunch the next day.
This again helps to stick to the routine and streamlines our day.
No man (or woman) is an island – I suppose isolation is a bit easier for Andrea and I as we both are introverts, but we still stay connected with friends and family.
So call them, message them, challenge them to eat a raw egg… The results are hilarious!
The human race wasn’t made to practice social distancing. Keep those social threads tight!
My fellow South Africans, I’d love to share an emoji high five. Let me know how you are dealing with the lockdown and isolation. Stay safe, stay healthy.