There is no perfect relationship, and all relationships struggle with conflict, misunderstanding, and frustration from time to time. However, when you add stressors like a pandemic, job loss, and being confined with the same people every hour of every day, relationship discord is going to be intensified. When personal space is no longer an option and worries about every aspect of your livelihood are present, it can begin feeling like your relationship is a pressure cooker ready to blow. At this point, you’ll lose patience with those you love most.
It's difficult to think of using this uncertain time as an opportunity for improving your relationship; however, with practice, these small improvements will build relationship resilience, improve connection, and reduce stress.
1. Work to cooperate, not win. When the focus is about you being right or having to win, that automatically puts your partner in a defensive, losing role. This intensifies arguments.
2. Listen before you pounce. When couples are stressed, they react quicker. Practice taking a breath, wait your turn to talk, and keep your voice calm. Making accusations and finishing your partner’s thoughts causes withdrawal and hostility.
3. Develop the 5% rule. This rule states that you only need to agree to 5% of what your partner says to minimize conflict. When you’re having an argument, focus on listening to what you hear and find the 5% you agree with. Begin building from there.
4. Keep your conflicts centered on how you feel rather than facts. Feelings are not right or wrong - they just are. Caring how your partner feels instead of right or wrong facts keeps your relationship functioning at a heart level.
Relationships are alive and that makes them susceptible to stress and fatigue during challenging times. Working on how you communicate and care for each other during stressful times will help you build lasting resilience in your relationship. Use this time to invest in your marriage for years to come.