Surviving Each Other, While Surviving the Pandemic
Oh no! I think my spouse was switched with someone else’s during the birth of the coronavirus.
If you are seeing things about your significant other which are on your last nerve, you are not alone. In my practice, I have witnessed several couples go from the pleasures and excitement of spending more time together to feeling “I want to rip his head off his shoulders.”
If you wonder if your relationship is going to make it, if their behaviors drive you crazy, if their humor is now ridiculous, if the sound of their voice is annoying, if you crave your personal space, or if your arguments are just down right ludicrous, you are not alone. Marital or relationship discord is not only common – it is to be expected in times of extreme turmoil!
This unexpected and unfamiliar turmoil slowly but surely introduced despair, fear, uncertainty, doubt, confusion, and insecurity to all of us at some level. How we choose to deal with these feelings is the real game changer in relationships.
In February of this year, I was seeing several couples who had made great strides in their relationship. Mid-March served as a pre-curser to what was to come by introducing changes in everyday life. People were somewhat confused in what was occurring, but most individuals adapted well to the changes at work and school and embraced the unexpected time to spend with their loved ones. By the first part of April, couples were entering the uncharted waters of the pandemic. The steady uncertainty of these rough waters was in full force by the end of April. The couples I witnessed back in February dedicated to working on their relationships now found themselves in unfamiliar conditions caused by the pandemic, and wandering away from healthy communication and engagement.
I have written 12 suggested tactics/ideas for couples to use in order to help maintain a healthy relationship in these stressful times. Because it’s so much good material I’ve split this into TWO articles so be sure to read my upcoming newsletter too! (add me to the list)
There needs to be, as best as possible, a separation between daytime and evening, week time and weekend, working time and idle time, family time and individual time, moments which are task-oriented and moments we stop for a bit. When we are going to eat, are we going to reset the table or just push our work stuff away a little bit so that we have room to put a plate down? I think, more than ever, the routine which creates a structure and brings a certain sense of order in a world which feels so chaotic and so unsure, is crucial. The ritual is what separates the ordinary and the mundane from something that becomes more elevated, more separated, more sacred. All these three things are essential.
Couples do not tend to really understand what the other one does during the day. We are not accustomed to witnessing the work, pressure, accomplishments, failures, or success they achieve daily. By noticing and mentioning what you recognize your partner does or accomplishes daily can offer a newfound appreciation in the relationship. “I realize how clueless I was, how I let you do everything.” Or “I really had no idea what you have to deal with at work until now” can offer empathy and appreciation on a deeper level.
You do not have to literally storm out of the front door in order to leave the house. You can be in the same room without being present in the slightest bit. All couples go through harmony, disharmony, and repair. This is a dance we all preform. Couples fight! Some want to call it a disagreement but come on, couples fight, and they should! The important part is how they fight.
When you get really mad (and you will) at something, can you just once try to get over yourself and possibly say, “O.K., got that out of my system—how are we going to solve this?” or “Look, I realize I acted a fool….Let me first say what I do appreciate about what you do before I dump on you the whole list of stuff that I don’t think you do”? We are all so quick to point out the stuff we do not like when there are always good things…just sometimes you need to dig deep to find them.
You need to set up ground rules for fighting, as a quick reference I’ve included a link to my blog titled How
to Fight Fair.
Tit for Tat
Stay focused on the task or issue! If you are upset about the laundry, stay on task! Do not go out in left field and bring up things that have annoyed you for the past several years. Keep yourself from reverting back to childhood pointing the finger at your partner for what he/she has done and comparing apples to oranges.
Opinions are Opinions
Most of us know how to protest something we do not agree with. This could be an opinion about politics, religion, raising kids, morals, values, sex, genders, and so on. It is just that – an opinion and we all know what they say about opinions. When you state an opinion know this is not a fact. When you protest along with your opinion, it invites controversy and most of the time ends in negativity. State your opinion and let it be. There is a huge difference in, “Your kid is a looser” and “Sometimes your kid may not make the best decisions”.
Give One Another the Benefit of the Doubt
Times are tough. Stress is high. Shit will hit the fan. A good rule of thumb: When you are communicating with your partner, give them the benefit of the doubt. “You’re both dealing with increased stress and unpredictability, so it’s likely that your partner isn’t actually trying to annoy you, set out to hurt you or act selfishly — they’re probably genuinely overwhelmed and not thinking as clearly as usual.
Next week we will kick off the article on the spicier side of things…. let’s talk about sex, baby!
Interested in more? I would love to virtually meet to you! Email or call anytime to schedule a virtual session. (817) 701-5438 | firstname.lastname@example.org
CRT, CCDC, CACC | Counselor & Life Coach
Empowering individuals, families and communities to grow and heal through advanced approaches in Creative Arts Therapy, setting the standard for treatment, practice and training within the field.Turn On Builder[Edit]Parents: How to Support Your LGBTQ ChildWelcome to My Zoo: Pet-Assisted Therapy