Coping with COVID-19 in a Marriage Affected by Sexual Abuse

Coping with COVID-19 in a Marriage Affected by Sexual Abuse

During the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, many marriages are being challenged in new ways as “Stay at Home” orders are given to many states and localities. Constant togetherness is not always a good thing. Men and women in marriages affected by a spouse’s childhood sexual abuse can find it extra challenging in our new normal. These challenges include:

  • Conflicted couples become more conflicted.
  • Fearful people become more fearful as news updates seem to bring more bad news.
  • Controlling spouses becoming frustrated over events they cannot control.
  • Survivors who were trapped by a perpetrator now struggling as they feel trapped in their homes. The present trap can trigger past trauma.

In this blog, I recommend three positive and proactive steps towards healthy coping during this pandemic. In my next blog, I will offer recommendations for connecting during COVID-19, specifically connecting relationally with your spouse.

Three Coping Practices:

1. Refocus your perspective through a 60-second exercise

In a webcast this week, my financial advisor gave his web-audience 60-seconds to list things from the past 30 days for which they were grateful. I ask that you do the same thing right now. Take 60-seconds to make your gratitude list.

Take 60-seconds right now to make your gratitude list.

There is currently a shortage of two things: toilet paper and good news. Your list is good news. Post your list on the side of your monitor, or on your bathroom mirror, or on your refrigerator; somewhere where you will see it often.

2. Get outdoors

If we don’t do essential self-care, we will feel worn out. People who are worn-out can wear out a relationship. A marriage relationship is no exception to this idea.

People who are worn-out can wear out a relationship

Our bodies are invigorated by being outside. Here are some ideas:

  • Read outdoors rather than indoors.
  • If you have younger children, make your yard into a ballpark. Be creative. Designate a dugout and bullpen area.
  • If your children are older, spend time with them shooting hoops or playing catch. Do it as a family.
  • Go for walks.
  • Go for runs or bicycle if exercise is your outlet.

3. Manage your news intake

One long-term effect of childhood sexual abuse is depression. Therefore, it is especially important for survivors of abuse and their spouses to set boundaries in regard to the volume of news they hear and read. Even the CDC website states, “Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories and social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.” Setting boundaries is not avoidance; it is self-control.

Setting boundaries is not avoidance; it is self-control.

In my next blog, I’ll explore how we can move beyond coping toward personal and relational development.


  • Linda
    Posted April 4, 2020 8:07 am 0Likes

    Thank Bill
    Really good and helpful advice.

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