Kindness and compassion are always essential for cultivating positive relationships. During these times of stress with no end date predicted, the challenges to tend our relationships increases.
Listening to so many of my clients, and experiencing my own struggles I am struck with the simultaneous resilience and fragility individuals and their relationships evidence.
Our moods and feelings are heightened by the fear of the unknown and the unfamiliar. Daily worries about finances, social isolation, sexuality and loss seep into our bodies and souls sometimes overtly or other times like an unnoticed slow drip.
As our worries accumulate so does are propensity to be irritable or withdrawn. This can lead to ongoing fights and relationship doubts. Many relationship issues started long before any of us ever heard of Covid 19, but before the virus we had many more coping strategies to utilize.
The virus has given us a unique opportunity to learn about ourselves and our partners and grow together. I have worked with couples for almost 38 years and have been married almost as long. The following are some skills to try, to create greater happiness in your bond.
Most of us believe if our partner would change everything would be fine. I suggest starting with an inventory of yourself. What creates distress and doubt in your interaction? What do you usually feel or think in those moments? Do you like your behavior when you are filled with negative emotions? As you reflect on yourself at those times see if they connect to any other relationships from your past, your family or other significant love relationships. Most of us can make connections, and will often describe not knowing anything else to do or feeling helpless to do anything else in those emotional states.
You are not helpless to react differently. Try to use calming tools. Think and visualize being in a safe place. Learn how to breathe or go for a walk. Until you are calmer, biology usually takes over and we fight or take flight. Once you are calmer try to discuss with your spouse how you feel and what you need to improve the interaction next time. Talk using I messages rather than attack. I know this sounds easy, but believe me, I understand how difficult this is.
If you and your partner are chronically besieged with economic distress, parenting demands and in small spaces, try to talk frequently and offer each other compassion. Preventing frustration by giving each other time each day to be freed up from responsibility. Always try to spend some time laughing, touching, being intimate and expressing appreciations.
Your relationship deserves extra attention now, at the time you have the least to give. You are a team and need to be there for each other more than ever before. Every time you want to scream and criticize, try to take a different approach, patience and love are contagious and go along way.