The last time you logged this many consecutive hours with your partner was probably on your honeymoon or during a meaningful vacation. The pandemic has made all of us retreat and hunker down in our homes with one another…for months, some of us going on 8 consecutive months. Couples are handling this forced “quality time” differently.
Do you and your partner fall into one of these quarantine couple categories?
Reconnected – taking the forced time at home as a way to reconnect. You’ve wanted to for some time, but with fast-paced schedules it was difficult. Now with COVID-19 locking us down, perhaps you both are able to work from home and possibly have less extracurricular activities to take your kids to, you’re finding spending time together is more readily available, and you are enjoying one another’s company. You might even miss each other when the day comes to return to the traditional office.
Tips for the reconnected couples: Share what you appreciate about spending time together. It’s important to share your appreciation out loud – couples often think of an appreciation, but might overlook telling their partner. This is a simple, yet powerful way to continue strengthening your connection.
Distressed – being confined to the same place, under the same roof has increased the anxiety, stress, and tension. It’s become more difficult to “let things go” and the time together without your normal extracurricular or stress-relieving outlets has highlighted areas that need attention or events that haven’t been discussed or resolved. You are motivated to address these things, but not sure the best way to do so.
Tips for the distressed couples: If you find yourself more tense or respond to your partner in a harsh tone, it’s important to repair. For instance, you could say, “Hey, I realized I snapped at you. That wasn’t fair. I’ve had a stressful week and I’m a bit on edge. Will you forgive me?” If you find yourself as a “distressed” couple, this is where our reconnection service can help you and your partner have conversations that need to be had in an environment where you both feel supported. During this process, most likely the focus will not only be on the specific issue you want to address, but also on effective communication strategies. You’ll gain valuable skills to utilize moving forward.
Mixed – spending more time together has one or both of you considering, “Should I stay, or should I go?” I don’t know how much more of this relationship I can do anymore as it stands. The time apart, differing schedules, and being able to get out of the house freely served a good function and was a nice form of reprieve. However, without those outlets, you’re finding the tension or dissatisfaction within your relationship difficult to escape and you find yourself contemplating, “Something has got to give – I don’t know if I have the energy it takes to work things out and I certainly don’t have the energy to keep living this way.”
Tips for the mixed couples: It might be helpful to start reflecting on how your relationship got to this point. Specifically, what have you done to contribute to where your relationship is now? Reflecting is a good starting point. If you find yourself as a “mixed” couple, this is where discernment counseling can be helpful. Discernment counseling allows each of you to honor where you currently are and how you are currently feeling (or not feeling about the relationship). We see one of you as leaning in, meaning you want to do whatever it takes to make the relationship work. While the other partner is leaning out towards separation and divorce; you are not sure you want to be in the relationship, especially as it is now.
Long gone – lockdown has made it clear that our relationship goals are misaligned, I don’t have respect for my partner anymore, and I cannot envision spending the rest of my life with my partner. Emotionally, I’ve built walls and I don’t believe I can re-engage. I have consistent feelings of resentment, contempt, and the only way things will get better for me is to leave.
Tips for the long gone couples: It’s a difficult conversation, but necessary – being honest with your partner about your decision to end the relationship. Rather than focusing on “what’s wrong with your partner,” focus on your own feelings and be clear with your intentions. For instance, “I feel alone and unimportant in this relationship and have for a long time. I’ve felt withdrawn from you and I believe our relationship is beyond repair. I have made the decision to begin the separation process.” Therapy can still be helpful at this point – help you grieve the relationship you had, understand how not to replicate any unhealthy patterns in your future relationships, and work together for the long-run if you have children together.
We understand the added stress living in 2020 has been for every household. We understand that depending on the day, you may fluctuate from one couple type to the next. We are here to help you and your partner examine your relationship, work through conflict, and discover how to communicate more effectively and honestly. Contact us to get scheduled.
We specialize in couples and relationship dynamics and work with clients residing in Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, and Texas. We offer daytime, evening, and Saturday appointments.