Managing your relationship during the Coronavirus crisis can be tricky. As much as we all want to think we are the perfect couple in the perfect relationship, the truth is that most of us have never lived in each other’s back pockets for weeks on end. Even if we share the same hobbies and the same workplace, there are usually other people around and separate events that we will go to without our partner be it gym, golfing or simply going to the hardware store.
Now – thanks to social distancing and stay-at-home orders – that has all changed. More than that, it changed very suddenly. Many couples are now working from the same home no matter if they are working the same job. This is fine – or at least better – if you have a big house with multiple spaces that can be used as an office, but much less fun if you are in a smaller apartment where finding your own space is a little more difficult.
The first thing to realize with your relationship is that you are 100% going to get on each other’s nerves at some point during this lockdown. Maybe it hasn’t happened yet, but it will. Often the pandemic itself is the cause of this, especially if the two of you aren’t completely in line with your thinking on how serious the situation is. Given that everyone thinks differently, this is likely to be a bone of contention at some point.
It is more than okay to get on each other’s nerves. The problem is that unlike pre-pandemic, there is likely no outlet for the feelings other than stewing in a different room. When these fights happen both of you need to avoid the “Four Horsemen” of relationship enders as proposed by psychologist John Gottman.
These four ideas are criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. These four, which include attitudes with “always and never” statements, insulting verbally or with actions, counterattacking when feeling victimized, and measures to avoid interaction, will all see this pandemic claiming your happiness and relationship from you. Talk to your partner as soon as possible – knowing that fights may come –on how to avoid these specific concepts when upset at each other.
Instead, look at this time as a chance to build your relationship and cut down on stress. Be positive in all interactions – Gottman suggests a 5:1 positive to negative ratio or better – to keep each other happy. Practice your listening skills when you are upset and when you are both happy, showing empathy for the situation towards one another. Make your partner feel safe and happy and find new ways to enjoy life together that break what is already becoming a mundane daily routine.
The options here are endless for ways to improve your vital relationship by not letting the Four Horsemen create stress and bring down everything you have built over the years. See this as a time of opportunity and emerge on the other side stronger than ever.
Article by Vital Guidance