Invest in Your Relationship
Therapists are seeing clients virtually throughout the Coronavirus Pandemic. It's normal to fight more during these stressful times, because partners are spending much more time together. However, if there were pre-existing issues in a relationship, they could be getting exacerbated right now, putting an already fragile relationship into crisis mode. A couples therapist can help to navigate those conflicts and help improve the interaction between you and your partner.
Talk to each other!! What a concept, huh? Communication is at the core of any healthy relationship. And be aware of how you communicate. If you're yelling or making passive aggressive comments, your communication style may need a little work. Remember that you are teammates in a relationship. You both want the same thing in the relationship - to be loved, cared for and to get along.
Space & Self-Reflection
It's not "normal" to be on top of each other ALL the time! So it's perfectly okay, and helpful, to get some space to yourself. We've all heard the age old saying before, you can't be happy in a relationship unless you're happy with yourself. It's cheesy, but it really is SO true!
During this time, it can be helpful to seeing 1:1 counseling for yourself. That self exploration can help you get to the core of what is making it difficult to connect with your partner. After all, our earliest relationships in life can set the tone for all relationships in our future. Relationships with significant others and your own children can be affected by the expectations and attachment traumas developed in earlier relationships.
When you take space to yourself, you have the time to self reflect and process your own thoughts and emotions without projecting them onto your partner.
Be Aware of Defensiveness
It's human nature to want to defend ourselves when we feel attacked or threatened. This perception can lead to a whole 'lotta defensiveness. It also prevents us from seeing things from our partner's perspective and from taking responsibility for our own actions.
If you feel the urge to defend yourself, first ask yourself: "is there a actual threat right now?" or "why is this bothering me so much?" That self reflection can stop the conversation from going from calm to conflict.
If your partner wants to address something with you, try leaning in and asking "what is it that you need?" Maybe it's not even about you and your partner just needs you to be a safe place for them.
Stay Away From Negativity
Energy is contagious. The more we exposure ourselves to negative thoughts, images and people, the more we begin to feel edgy, anxious, and just cranky. That's going to make it much more difficult to feel connected and loving toward our partner.
Be mindful of the quality of your thoughts, too. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has taught us that what we think has a direct effect on how we feel, which in turn can shape our behavior. If you're having trouble thinking positivly, a therapist can help. CBT uses concrete tools, such as an automatic thought record, teaching about cognitive distortions, etc., so you can increase your awareness about your thinking styles. You might be surprised at how your thoughts are impacting your relationships.
Have Fun with Each Other
As you can tell from the video, we loveeee to laugh! Laughter is a great way to diffuse any stressful interaction. John Gottman, one of the best researchers of couples and relationship therapy, always says the a repair is a great way to overcome conflict. A repair attempt is any statement or action — verbal, physical, or otherwise — meant to diffuse negativity and keep a conflict from escalating out of control. (Gottman, 2017)
At the end of the day, we want to enjoy the time spent with our partners, so take a deep breath, relax and remember this will hopefully be over soon!
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About the Author
Dana Carretta-Stein is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and founder of Peaceful Living Mental Health Counseling, PLLC, and Carretta Consulting in Scarsdale, NY.
She specializes in clinical psychotherapy to treat children, adolescents and adults with anxiety, behavior and traumadifficulties. She is a certified EMDR therapist, consultant in training, and Regional Coordinator of the Westchester EMDR Regional Network.
Dana is also a business coach for wellness practitioners who are looking to build and grow their private practice. For more information, visit dana.carretta.com