Since the pandemic began, most people worried about contracting it. After all, no one wants to experience an unknown and uncertain virus. When you feel vulnerable, you begin looking to those closest to you for protection. However, couples are getting into heated arguments and debates about safety and boundaries. Can we go out to eat? Can our children attend school? Is it safe to take a vacation or are we confined to our backyards and balconies indefinitely?
Couples may have been able to negotiate their differences in the beginning of the pandemic, but as the pandemic drags on, more couples are exhausted. Financial concerns, unemployment, and mental health issues are at an all-time high, creating more stress and conflict. You begin wondering if your partner really loves you and your family if they choose to jeopardize everyone’s health by refusing to wear a mask and avoid large gatherings. On the other side, maybe you feel your partner is too fearful by refusing to embrace reasonable safety precautions in order to venture outside the house.
The threat of COVID-19 is still high, so how do you live and negotiate your differences without abandoning your partner? Here are 4 suggestions that may help:
1. In stress, we digress. Take time to cool off and think about your words before you react. Find a quiet time you can discuss it by yourselves without distractions.
2. Listen without judgement to your partner. A win/win only happens when both partners understand the other’s concern and does what is best for the relationship. It’s not about what you want to do; it’s about what will work best for the relationship.
3. Agree on the goal and pull together. Embracing teamwork and agreeing on the overall goal helps minimize bickering. Example goals may be to stay healthy, raise healthy children, and be able to thrive despite COVID-19. Agree on what needs to happen to achieve those goals.
4. Make compromises to enjoy time together. Giving up something you each want to feel closer to one another is the best solution. Maybe your partner enjoys walks but is concerned about hiking with friends. Taking a hike together and enjoying quality alone time enhances your relationship. If you want to enjoy the company of friends, try tennis. When couples are willing to find win-win solutions for their quarrels, they feel heard, understood, and loved by their partner.
The pandemic is an opportunity to find solutions to everyday stress and couple conflict. Working together to find new ways to connect and enjoy each other is what being in a healthy relationship is all about.