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How Has The Pandemic Affected Relationships

How Has The Pandemic Affected Relationships

Learn How To Maneuver Through Isolation-Stress

"We have had difficult times and are going through difficult times right now in this isolation thing. I'm not even in my family home right now because me and her were at each other's throats. It wasn't a good time or a good space.

- Shane Lynch

According to Hello Magazine, Shane Lynch, singer/songwriter of Boyzone, and his wife Sheena White called it quits back in April of 2020, after 13 years of marriage. During an interview on Paul Danan's Morning After podcast, Lynch said "You find out things about relationships and it can be very difficult. It can be a struggle."

The almost indestructible COVID-19 virus has caused extreme panic and fear for everyone around the world. The soaring number of deaths, having to constantly evaluate our own physical and mental health, and not to mention trying to hold on to our identity during a stringent quarantine is an emotional yoke to carry around. But trying to nurture a healthy relationship at the same time, for some couples, the weight of it all might have been the straw that broke the camel's back.

For so many partners, the lockdown has forced them to spend a considerably amount of time together in a space they are not familiar with- relying on each other for support every minute of everyday day with underlying family stressors that poses a threat to their intimate space. Some households experience job loss, the sudden change from taking their children to school to learning online, parents going from commuting to work to working remotely, etc. A lot of these issues places strain on a relationship, in cases where the relationship was already in a stagnant place.

We've all in some way or another had to cope with the onslaught of a sudden health crisis and how it has threatened and disrupted our social and economic way of life. In many ways, we were left with what if's; we had to learn to wrestle with not seeing our friends and family as much as we normally do, there were doubts about what will happen to our unforeseen future, those dealing with an insurmountable loss of economic stability left much concern and distress, and the world pondered, endlessly"will things get better or return to normal?" says Lindsay Kramer, MFT, lead therapist of the dual Intensive Outpatient Program at Sharp Mensa Vista Hospital. In the wake of trying to understand our present, let alone our future, we have to support the closest person to us- our partner. And that brings about an onus that spills into negative coping strategies. At that point, we find it hard to take care of our emotional needs, let alone our partner's.

How the pandemic has affected couples' relationship depends on the internal and external stresses they're facing, as well as their individual vulnerabilities, says Paula Pietromonaco professor emerita of psychological and brain sciences. As human beings, we're used to dialogue, the sharing of ideas and leaning on each other for support, especially in a relationship, and if two people can't find the tools to cope or handle the stressors of any crisis effectively, the "negative impact may be exponential," says Kramer.

There are a few ways to shield your relationship from the stress of the pandemic:

  • Take time to have a 'Come-to-yourself moment.': Don't push things to the back of your mind or compartmentalize them, sit in your thoughts and deal with them. Give yourself some perspective so you can heal. Allow yourself to experience the real truths about how you truly feel
  • Take time to listen to your partner without the urgency to respond: Listening to understand is key is any relationship and it builds trust and openness, and confidence in your partner to open up even more.
  • Tackle issues as they come up, do not leave them be or let small things slide: Small issues eventually become big ones over time. But tackle them with tact.
  • Use gentle-love in everything you say and do: Sometimes tough love doesn't always work, it just pushes the person away, use kind words, be polite, as silly as it sounds. Give your partner space to to feel, or hurt; be present with them in each moment and show up for each other.

Relationships are not bulletproof and at any time in our lives, any variable can puncture the very space that you and your partner has worked so hard to keep impermeable. In many cases, the onslaught of the pandemic has proven that there is an urgent need for help for struggling couples, and for others, it was the complete opposite.

Two women who participated in a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center recalled how quarantine has strengthened their relationship.

"I have spent more time with my boyfriend than I thought would be possible. Our relationship has solidified in ways that I don't think it would have otherwise. I have taken more time to slow down and appreciate a moment to hold hands," (Woman, 18-29)

"I've always had a good relationship with my partner but now we seem to make sure that we're respectful of each other's feelings, saying sorry for snapping at each other, helping each other with chores." (Woman 65)

The pandemic may have deemed many relationships unstable, but a lot of couples may have been dealing with this reality pre-Covid-19 and not know it or could possibly have ignored it. Being in isolation can highlight a lot of factors that were already there, therefore, coercing two individuals who share the same living space day in and day out to now isolate themselves from each other, right after they've had to be isolated from the outside world. It's a hard feat to be up against. But if couples can identify how and what the triggers are and get ahead of their issues, they can get through the pandemic together, successfully.

Additionally, Kramer encourages couples to have grace with one another, try to let go of grudges and blame, seek to choose forgiveness over condemnation, and take it one day at a time.

Blog Article Author: Heidi-Ann Milwood 

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