Can your relationship survive lockdown?
This week I did a radio phone-in on BBC West Midlands Breakfast show talking about the impact of lockdown on our relationships. Caroline in Walsall messaged in to say after two weeks stuck indoors with her husband, she was beginning to hate him. Having been married for just 18 months, she was starting to worry about the future of their relationship. What advice could I give her during this challenging time?
Like millions of other people across the globe, the current pandemic forced Carline into a situation she wasn’t expecting. Households everywhere are juggling parenting, relationships, work and self-care all within a confined space. On a recent podcast episode of Psychologists-off-the-Clock, the hosts discussed the collision of our roles. We’ve lost the privacy and time to focus on these different aspects of our lives, and it is increasing our stress.
How do you handle the irritating habits of your partner?
You can’t control what he or she does, but you can direct what you do. You can allocate some time on your own away from them, and there are ways that you can adapt when you are with them. While you may want to hit them around the head with a frying pan, you can’t now run away afterwards. You’re stuck together for the foreseeable future and to get through this period, you may need to change the way you communicate.
Build Patience, Kindness & Forgiveness
Far from easy – I recognise that some people are deeply annoying – it is possible to go beyond your feelings of frustration and anger and be your ‘best self’despite the provocations to lay into them. Patience, kindness and forgiveness can go a very long way in making home life more tolerable.
After this is over, you may decide to leave your spouse. If that is what you want, then that is fine. In the meantime, there are ways to make life more peaceful.
Human Basic Needs
- To feel safe
- To have a connection with other people
- To experience satisfaction
The world feels less secure because other people have become a source of a possible threat. We are stuck at home, unable to get close to other friends and family you love and enjoy. Opportunities for fun and satisfaction are limited, and we need to get more creative to stay entertained. We have to work harder to fulfil these needs, and the stress can bring out our worst selves.
Instead of criticising, blaming, ignoring or talking over our partner, which may be more likely, we need to focus on ‘turning-down’ our adrenalin. When we speak in softer tones, we feel more soothed. We get better at avoiding conflicts, and we are more likely to build harmony rather than a trump-size wall that creates a permanent divide.
Have a little a listen to the show
BBC WM Radio Presenter Samantha Meah and I talk through some issues around how to get on better, what to say to teenagers who refuse to stay at home and how to keep relationships alive when you live apart.
Take care, be safe and tread carefully.
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