Your relationship under quarantine is your relationship under pressure. Lots of it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but wait two weeks.
Hopefully by then, you’ll have seen your therapist (virtually) a time or two AND you will read and DO the stuff that’s actually helpful in order to maintain a healthy, loving connection… or adjust a strained, tense one. (More on that below.)
Maybe you already saw the video on Facebook (follow me there if you don’t already) from last Friday talking about how this time has people responding differently because of the way they’re made and the way they process and move through the world, AND because of their unique core issues.
Stressful times can trigger those core issues very differently for members of a couple. Those responses can highlight differences in a way that doesn’t always feel so great when there’s a very real looming threat like coronavirus. Just when you need one another, tension in relationship can increase. Nothing like a pandemic to tax the strength of any relationship! And if you’ve already got issues, well then, here’s help:
First move for a relationship under pressure
Honestly, make an appointment with your therapist. Yes, I am available and currently very effectively continuing to meet with clients online.
If you feel nervous about online therapy, let’s chat. I’ve been doing it successfully for years. Even if you aren’t tech savvy at all, you’ll likely be surprised just how little time it takes to settle into this, experience it as truly meaningful, and get as much from it as you would an office visit. Some of my clients have even reported that it’s easier and more focused.
For me, both personally and professionally, especially during this time of Shelter in Place in Cincinnati, I take seriously our civic contribution to move as little as possible. We’re meeting online because we can, it works, and it is the right thing to do for the greater good. (For those of you who know my work, that’s the Gentle, Benevolent Observer in action on a large scale.)
Back to your relationship under quarantine.
1. A skilled relationship expert can help you clarify, communicate, and manage whatever is going on for you…and between the two of you. She knows how each of you is made, how you process, and what tools will work best for you individually and as a couple for facing your exact challenges, especially under pressure.
We got you. We are trained for this. It’s what we do all the time. Call your therapist.
AND if I’m your therapist or you want to see if I will be yours, call ME.CONNECT
2. Secondly, your relationship, even now, needs some space. You’re gonna need some clear communication, some real intimacy, some teamwork, and some space.
Don’t wait until one of you is brimming over with irritation or feeling stuffy, smothered, and claustrophobic trapped in your house. We don’t want there to be any “finally erupting in anger.” Don’t wait. Know that you are going to naturally need a break from interaction and intensity and that it’s a good thing.
Also, don’t let those daily irritations pile up. Those sighing expressions, eye rolls, facial masks, and body language all communicate something even if you’re “holding your tongue” so to speak. Be sure ALL your communication is something helpful, kind, and true. (Not just one of those things, either: all three.)
That can be hard when things are getting TRIGGERED for you individually. That brings me to…
3. Tend to your personal issues. They’re yours. Some of you know really well how to take responsibility for them, to address them, and take care of yourself in a way that helps (and does not hurt) yourself or the relationship.
Some of you need a counselor to help with that. Or you’re currently working with one. Get in for an individual session. In the meantime, do everything you already know to manage your own issues, your own stress, and your own triggers
Is it take a walk? Take three deep breaths? Do some tapping and releasing? Do you need to journal it out? Meditate? Call a friend? Send a letter or email? Work out? Stay in touch with a support group?
And if COVID-19 circumstances are challenging, get creative. Of course, reach out virtually. Host an online party. There are lots of online platforms available for that as well.
Don’t have the right workout equipment at home? Lots of workouts available online will have you using alternate equipment for weights, blocks, straps, and other stuff. Improvise. You have amazing flexibility, adaptability, and creativity. Now’s the time to use it.
Got an old addiction, habit, or tendency? I’m not saying this is the time to quit smoking or stop drinking entirely…but it might be. For anyone else tempted to mitigate your stress with alcohol, food, or some other unhealthy obsession, do everything you need to do to stay focused on your overall health. It’s that Gentle, Benevolent Observer part of you getting some exercise and growing bigger even now, in fact, especially now.
4. Make a Schedule
Some routine and structure is good for all of us. If you’re home with kids, they need this. If you’re suddenly working from home, you gotta set some limits on how much you work. More details on upcoming blogs discussing Parenting in the time of Corona and Suddenly Working from Home in the next days.
In your relationship, maintain some structure.
Is Wednesday night date night? Keep it. Dream up ways to make it special. Even if you have kids at home, structure this around their sleep, or if they are old enough (and game) let them be your servers at the home restaurant, or let them enjoy their own treat-time downstairs while Mom and Dad are alone together in the dining room, dancing in the living room, or settling in with a movie. (By that time, maybe the young ones can join for the movie…or maybe it’s bedtime for them!)
Is Saturday hiking time? Do it, even if you have to walk closer to home. The two of you can hold hands, you just have to stay 6 feet away from everyone else you meet (or not in your household.)
Let your days be structured. And stick to it.
Don’t let Quarantine disrupt your relationship
No matter how you do it, don’t waste your quarantine. The two of you are made, move through the world, and process differently. You are each going to face this challenge a little differently. It really can be a time of greater intimacy, connection, and learning in your relationship. Or it can add to the aggravation, irritation, and ultimately cement a super-unhappy memory.
You got this.
And when you don’t, call. I’m here for you.CONNECT