Living with a partner can be a stressful experience on it’s own, and with the added stress of Covid-19 and being confined to home together, that stress may be increasing significantly for many relationships. While research is underway to further explore these impacts, relationships are having to adapt to them now.
In addition to many people feeling a greater amount of fear, anxiety, and overwhelm due to the pandemic, there are additional stressors impacting relationships right now:
- Financial stress related to the changes needed to stop Covid-19
- Constant togetherness may magnify existing tensions or patterns that are already present in a relationship. All those things that partners were too busy to notice are now floating up to the surface and much harder to ignore.
- Work life and home life are no longer separated. For those working from home they have lost the freedom to go to work and leave relationship stress at home.
- A lack of ability to use existing coping tools and resources to cope with relationship stress. Maybe you blew off steam by going to your soccer league, or meeting friends for dinner, and those outlets are no longer an option.
- In addition to doing homeschooling, there are likely fewer supports in place to share the responsibility of childcare which may be increasing tension in relationships.
Despite all these stressors there is every reason to believe that if partners adapt to these changes, and take advantage of this time of togetherness they may actually be able to strengthen their bond.
How to Get Through this Time Together
The recommendations for individuals is to provide some structure to their day, and the same goes for relationships. Create some structure about how and where you spend your time together and apart. If you have separate rooms in your living space make sure some alone time is scheduled into your day. Living in small spaces means you might have to get creative in planning alone time and make use of times when one person leaves for a walk, or to do grocery shopping. It’s also important to structure in some intentional time together to reconnect with each other like a date night, board game night, or walk together.
Compassion and Empathy
Remembering that this is a stressful time for everyone right now and we all adapt and respond to it differently. Trying to remain compassionate for your partner and empathizing with their experience can go a long way in soothing tensions and feeling more connected to each other. You could try incorporating the belief they are doing the best they can. How do things change for you when you stop and assume your partner is doing the best they can? This doesn't mean they aren't accountable to their actions and it absolutely means we still set boundaries, but when we choose to believe they are doing the best they can, many people are able to soften, remain engaged, and use empathy and compassion to keep the conversation going. It's important to remember that you are also doing the best you can right now.
Making sure communication is a priority can be helpful in working through issues and preventing major conflicts. Most of us would prefer if our partner was intuitively aware of our needs and how to support us; it can be uncomfortable and vulnerable to express our needs, or wants. Unfortunately, no one can read minds and if we aren’t clear about our needs, wants, and boundaries, it could leave us feeling misunderstood and disappointed which eventually builds to resentment. As Brene Brown says, "being clear is kind. Being unclear is unkind".
Get Outside Support for your Relationship
To manage stress, tension, and conflict resulting from pandemic-related changes some couples are turning to counselling as a means of support right now. Having a counsellor to help you de-escalate tension, and help you to understand the patterns taking place in your relationship will not only support you in getting through a stressful time together, but can also improve your relationship going forward.
Many couples describe relationship counselling as the only time to really focus on their relationship without the busyness of everyday life getting in the way. The current situation presents an opportunity for partners to address some of the issues in their relationship in a more direct and intentional way.
What it’s like to come for Relationship Counselling during the pandemic
During the pandemic response and physical distancing, we are providing all of our services remotely through video call or phone. For our relationship counselling sessions, your counsellor will send you a Zoom link and ask that you find a comfortable place to sit next to each other so you’re both on screen. Try to find a place where you can both sit comfortably without hunching over a laptop, and ensure there aren’t bright lights behind you. If you’re not together at the time of your appointment you can also join your Zoom session from different locations.
If you’re interested in our relationship counselling services learn more here or fill out our short Get-Matched Form.