With regulations and prohibitions still ranging from place to place, the pandemic’s impacts linger. As a result, many couples are experiencing what is known as a “COVID relationship drop.”
Increased stress, which couples face on a daily basis, can make it difficult to devote time and energy to their relationships. Ironically, it is precisely during these times of personal suffering that you yearn for your partner’s support, open arms, and compassionate empathy. But what if your partner is preoccupied with their own problems or doesn’t know how to provide you with the support you require? This “dip” may have the feel of a sinkhole.
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PANDEMIC STRESS PARTNERS
That’s how Marlena and Danny (not their real names) felt a few months ago. Marlena worked as a corporate attorney, and Danny managed an international business team, which required him to work long hours managing employees all over the world. Despite the fact that they could work from home during the epidemic, they still had to deal with two lively toddlers, a part-time babysitter’s shifting schedule, and a rowdy dog.
Marlena and Danny were absolutely overwhelmed when I met them. I asked them how much time they spent simply enjoying one other’s company and talking about subjects that had nothing to do with their household. They both burst out laughing in answer. The majority of their interactions ended in squabbles. They no longer felt significant or valued by one another. They became more critical over time, frequently keeping track in their brains of who was doing what for whom. Both of them felt cheated.
The Stress-Reducing Discussion
They tried to talk about workday worries, but it never went well. They were dissatisfied when their suggestions were discarded or rejected. We reinvented the objective of the Stress-Reducing Conversation through our collaborative efforts. Their next goal was to convey their emotional journey. What happened to cause them to be stressed, unhappy, hopeful, or proud? It was also an excellent method to demonstrate interest, support, and acceptance. They came to feel appreciated and totally known to one another through everyday communication.
Here are the simple guidelines that changed the course of their conversation:”
Discuss only issues outside of your relationship, not anything between you, even your children. These later issues can be discussed in a separate conversation.
Listen and sympathise, offer emotional support, and affirm their feelings as comprehensible based on how they experienced the situation—even if you might feel differently in their place.
Pose questions to assist them in exploring their emotions. Don’t give unsolicited advise. Your job is not to solve their problems unless you are asked to do so.
Don’t take the enemy’s side! This is not the time to be the devil’s advocate. You’re on their side. Marlena and Danny built a solid manner of sharing their lives with one other and feeling validated by applying these principles.
Marlena and Danny went into survival mode before calling for aid. They became so preoccupied with their work that they lost sight of, well, each other. The good morning hugs and coffee conversation had vanished. Even the nightly kisses and snuggles, as well as the daily affirmations of “I love you,” had faded into obscurity. When Marlena struggled to remember the last time they held hands, her tears welled up.
When you’re stressed, it’s normal to put your personal needs and sometimes even your relationship on the back burner. However, doing so for an extended length of time, such as the course of a pandemic, is a formula for disaster. The simplest solution is to build Rituals of Connection. These are actions you take on a regular basis to show your partner that “you are loved, appreciated, and cherished.” Rituals can be quick and simple, but they can also be powerful.
Marlena and Danny resumed their morning hugging routine. They also scheduled a weekly “date.” They literally set out an hour each week to go on a walk, have a picnic, or order sushi and have a private lunch in the den because they only had childcare during the workdays. Finding a way to connect before bedtime was one of their most difficult challenges. Despite her exhaustion, Marlena craved some physical connection before falling asleep, whereas Danny prefered making a beeline for his nest of pillows and dozing off. They came to an agreement after much deliberation. They’d cuddle for a few moments before retiring to bed. Even that brief interaction and concern seemed to help them both sleep well.
Rekindling Intimacy and Romance
Rekindling that relationship spark might be difficult at times. Danny saw the romance as a precursor to sex, and sex as a means of achieving his wife’s expectations. Sex, in his experience, was frequently stressful. As their regular chats and rituals of connection brought them closer emotionally, he had the opportunity to voice his problems and Marlena responded with compassion. They gradually set the atmosphere for more by developing comfort with holding hands on a walk, spooning before sleep, and exploring some early-morning sensuous touch. Marlena appeared to be overjoyed at our most recent session. “I’ve been smiling all day!” she said, putting her hands to her heart. We had a fantastic time in bed and… I’m just glad to be alive!” Danny wore a hesitant smile on his face. “Yes, it was good,” he confirmed.
They moved on to talk about an upcoming romantic beach vacation. It was their first trip without their children. “Because we work long hours, we always felt too guilty to leave them behind. We can now see why it is significant. Having parents who are happy together is good for them as well.” Danny’s eyes were bright. He reached out and hugged Marlena quickly.
Stress-Reducing Conversations, connecting rituals, and rekindling romance worked for Marlena and Danny. Grab your spouse and give them a try if you’re in a “COVID dip.”