By Alice Hargreaves, Relationship & Parenting Practitioner at Tavistock Relationships
Relationships are hard to do at the best of times, but coronavirus has led to massive changes to the way we live our lives and is testing our relationships to the max.
Chinese marriage registry officials have reported a rise in the divorce rate because couples have spent too much time together during coronavirus self-isolation, dealing with emotions of anxiety, fear, loneliness, anger and sadness. So how can we avoid divorce in the wake of this crisis?
Being part of a couple is an unending, ever-developing process which takes ‘work’. As our lives shrink, the basics of investing in the health of our intimate relationships and being attentive to each other’s needs as well as our own, will be more important than ever. Here are five ways to help boost your relationship during lock down:
1. Acceptance & tolerance – accepting and tolerating difference is essential in every relationship – especially during lock down. Spending so much more time together, we must try harder than ever to balance being two individuals and a couple. We will need to learn to regularly take time to put ourselves in the other’s shoes, respect our differences and think about what makes the other person happy. So for example, we should take it turns to decide what to watch on TV each day, which games we play with the kids and who gets time to themselves to exercise.
2. Team work - every day stresses stack-up within everyone and the majority of people are oblivious to the weight they are carrying around. It can be helpful for us to get to know the feelings of stress mounting up within ourselves, but also in our partners. Helping each other with domestic tasks, child care and now also home schooling, is a way of understanding each other’s struggle, minimizing blame and creating time to relax together.
3. Talking - making assumptions about a partner’s thoughts and feelings is a common trap in long-term relationships that can often lead to misunderstanding and conflict. Instead, take time out to ask open questions and consider your partner’s needs. Questions like, “That’s what I think, but what about you?” or “I might have got this wrong, but are you unhappy about something?” demonstrate that you consider your partner’s thoughts and feelings to be important.
4. Appreciation - saying 'thank you' is really important. Some couples assume the other knows they are grateful but ‘thank you’ is a magical phrase that prevents feelings of being taken for granted and resentment. It creates a positive cycle between partners, encouraging us to repeat generous acts, like making each other a cup of tea in the morning.
5. Playing together - laughing and ‘playing’ has all kinds of health benefits, from easing stress, countering depression and boosting positive mood. Research reveals that most people look for a good sense of humour in their ideal mate and sharing a sense of what’s funny affirms an intimate relationship. So watch funny films together and dust off those long neglected board games to lighten the mood and increase a sense of pleasure in life and each other.
Tavistock Relationships is offering virtual help during Coronavirus for couples and families. Visit www.TavistockRelationships.org to find out more.
tagged in Divorce