By Marina Parker, CFT Graduate Intern
The Coronavirus pandemic is impacting everyone in the world in vastly different ways, and changing the way that many people live their lives. Especially for people in relationships, the shelter in place laws have created a new dynamic that people are finding themselves confused about how to handle.
At this time, many couples are reporting higher levels of frustration, conflict and distress in their relationships (especially if they are living with their partner). This is completely normal, and makes sense in the context of the pandemic! If external stressors are higher, it makes sense that internal stressors (like relationship conflict) feel more upsetting than perhaps they did before the pandemic.
Here are 5 quick tips when dealing with relationship stress:
1. Take breaks in conflict when you need them.
It can be tempting to spiral in arguments when things get heated. If you’re noticing that you feel really escalated, take a 30-minute break to check in with yourself, breathe, and come back to the discussion when you’re feeling more centered.
2. Tackle one conflict at a time.
Bringing in multiple argument topics can feel confusing and frustrating; by limiting your discussion to one issue at a time you can more completely discuss the issue and get closer to understanding the other person’s viewpoint.
3. Use ‘I’ statements whenever possible.
By owning your own feelings and perspectives, the conversation feels less accusatory and more productive. Using ‘I’ statements helps your partner understand where you’re coming from and how both of you can work together.
4. Express gratitude whenever possible.
Chances are both you and your partner are working a lot harder than before to get things done! Try to make overt expressions of gratitude when you see your partner doing something that you appreciate.
5. Take a moment to talk about what’s going well.
Even in the midst of all the chaos of COVID, it is important to acknowledge the things about your relationship that are going well in spite of everything going on. Take a moment with your partner for each of you to verbally state what is going well in the relationship and the impact it has on you.
This is a challenging time that we are all living in. Be kind to yourself and to your partner, as we are all navigating something unfamiliar. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help when you need it!