by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghApril 10, 2020 family and marriage counseling, quarantine, relationship conflict, social distancing0 comments
How to reduce conflict and enhance your relationship during Quarantine COVID-19.
While many sources state that there are potential dangers to sharing home, life, and work space with your partner, and children, and dog, and anyone else that finds their way into your domestic life, we want to discuss that there are many ways to turn those potential pitfalls into opportunities for relationship moments. While it is true that mental health stressors are steeply on the increase, as well as dangerous statistics like sharp increases in mental health crises calls and domestic violence being reported. Alternately the experiences of some couples who are living, loving and working together can be positive, at least in the short term. Couples are grateful to spend more time together, to have shortened their work day by cutting off the commute, and are given the chance to understand the nuances of each others work and life in deeper and more meaningful ways. This article will highlight two ways that social distancing and working from home can add greater stress to your relationship. We will discuss each and the steps to manage them.
If your relationship was struggling before COVID, it will likely become much worse with the added stress of working from home and too much closeness for comfort. While there are a variety of conflicts that couples experience, an overwhelming number of them fall under the category of ‘conflict communication.’ Meaning that the two are not listening and responding to each others needs, thoughts, and attempts at connection in a way that supports the fabric of their love. Sometimes we are most bothered not by having too much time together but in noticing that the time together is punctuated by painful distance, quiet, and missed opportunities. If this sounds familiar to you, become intentional to not simply live in the same home but to put down your phones and turn off the TV, tune into your partner with the goal of understanding them. Ask them questions like what are they working on, what is important to them right now, what they are struggling with right now, dig in and ask follow up questions to each of their responses. Use our intimate conversation guide for couples if you are looking for more pointers on going deeper into dialogue.
Try to keep some degree of normal in your day. Get dressed and ready for your work day even if nobody outside of your home will see you. Be sure that you have created your own makeshift work space if you dont have a home office. With your routine and space in tact, try to take breaks and pauses just as you would in your work office. That is time that you might be able to connect with your partner. You can try to arrange walks in the neighborhood together, prepare lunch, dinner or breakfast together to form a further routine.
The second way that couples might experience greater stress during the pandemic is if there is an imbalance in the way that they share spaces and household tasks. In this scenario, feelings of hurt, disappointment, and frustration will emerge from misunderstandings. An example might be that while both partners are working the same number of hours but one partner is primarily responsible for managing household and child care tasks. A way to overcome the challenges of this scenario lie within the realization that expectation will change during the pandemic, there will likely be more household responsibility and there will need to be more time and support in managing this. There will also likely be a shift in the work life of any partner who is in the workforce. Work policies and expectations might become more lax, and at bare minimum working from home will shorten the work day commute, each partner should tune into the other and discuss what is needed and how they can both help the household adapt to the changes.