2020 threw the entire world into a tailspin in emotional, physical, and mental ways. Many couples found themselves facing relationship issues seemingly out of the blue – or dealing with huge issues that didn’t seem so dire before.
The truth is, the pandemic put us in a unique situation where relationship dynamics were drastically altered.
Does that make COVID-19 a doomsayer for all relationships? Not at all!
If you find your relationship suffering because of COVID, it’s important to understand how the pandemic affected relationships as well as how you can decrease stress and increase communication with your partner.
How COVID-19 Affected Relationships
It Created Financial Hardships
Finances are the leading cause of stress in relationships. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there were many people who lost jobs and revenues due to the closures caused by the virus.
Not only does a sudden lack of money cause tension between partners but differing views and values related to money can cause stress as well.
This can lead to couples arguing about money as well as hiding transactions from each other.
It Created a Demand for New Routines and Responsibilities
Working from home, homeschooling, job loss – these are all situations that can cause significant disruptions in daily routines and dramatically shift responsibilities from one partner to the other.
The working partner who lost their job may find themselves frustrated with their lack of work and increase in household responsibilities. Likewise, someone who suddenly begins working at home may feel overwhelmed by the constant presence of their partner.
The changes in routine and responsibilities resulting from the pandemic can cause tension and strain in a relationship.
It Added More Stress to Pre-Existing Vulnerabilities in the Relationship
Successful relationships often rely on creating space between partners either by going to work or having individual hobbies. When couples find themselves holed up at home during COVID-19 lockdowns, the resulting lack of solitude can have a negative effect on the relationship.
Not only does can the diminished space between couples cause tension in a relationship but it can actually add more stress to pre-existing vulnerabilities.
Those little quirks or annoyances that were once easy to overlook when there were moments of escape are now at the forefront and can cause added strain to couples.
How to Decrease Stress in Your Relationship
The end of the pandemic may be visible on the horizon but the resulting effects it had on relationships could be everlasting if not addressed.
COVID-19 was a rough go and our natural responses to it stripped away many of our regular coping mechanisms. And it also brought to light activities that we didn’t even know we relied on to reduce stress such as going to the movies, going to work, and socializing with friends and family.
Because our old sense of “normal” was unceremoniously thrown out the window, it’s important to give yourself and your partner some grace. These changes were traumatic to some degree and we need to allow ourselves some time to heal.
Whether or not any relationship issues arose during the pandemic, now is not the time to make huge relationship decisions like getting a divorce. Instead, give each other a break and see if things get back on track.
Remember that the pandemic aggravated those little irritations that were easy to brush aside when you weren’t stuck at home with your partner. It’s important to relax and ease up on things that are actually subjective, such as how your partner folds the laundry.
By doing so, you’ll put yourself in a position to better appreciate the differences between you and your partner instead of letting them divide you. You may even begin to recognize and find gratitude in the things your partner does that you used to overlook.
How to Increase Communication With Your Partner
The key to maintaining a healthy relationship with your partner is to develop good communication skills. Once you have reduced the stress in your relationship, follow these tips to improve those skills:
Learn How to Actively Listen
There is a vast difference between hearing someone and actually listening to them. The first step in healthy communication is to learn how to actively listen.
Active listening involves responses and body language that assures your partner that you are listening and registering what they are saying.
A good first step to active listening is to put down your phone while talking with your partner. Maintaining eye contact and giving verbal confirmation that you are listening also work to demonstrate active listening.
Don’t Expect Your Partner to Read Your Mind
Another term for this phenomenon is “passive-aggressive” which occurs when one partner expresses negative feelings instead of openly expressing them.
For example, one partner may give the other the cold shoulder until they figure out what is wrong with them.
Holding back your feelings is not helpful in creating an environment of healthy communication. Don’t wait for your partner to figure out what’s wrong – tell them in a calm and constructive manner.
Make Time to Talk
When you are placed in a situation in which you are sharing more space with your partner than you are used to, you may fall into the habit of only talking about things that “matter” such as spending money and household responsibilities.
While these conversations are important to have, they shouldn’t dominate the way you communicate with your partner all day. You need to reserve space in your conversations to discuss your feelings, your wants, and your needs.
You also need to make time to talk about the mundane things such as hobbies and interests that you each have. This will help you maintain a sense of personal connection.
Pandemic Stress Relief for Couples
The pandemic may have had a detrimental effect on your relationship but that doesn’t mean this is the end of the road.
If you find yourself unable to dissipate the stress in your relationship, it may be time to seek the support of couples therapy.
Let’s have a chat and see how couples therapy can strengthen your relationship and help you and your partner overcome the hurdles COVID-19 has thrown in your path!