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  • Joseanne Spiteri

Will Your Relationship Survive Covid-19?

Many couples are now working online in their own home. If they have children, they are struggling to home-school whilst keeping up with their work demands. Many of the couples I am working with are feeling increased stress and anxiety trying to accomplish these overwhelming tasks.

Indeed, these times are stressful. Some of you reading this may have been laid off and wondering how you are going to pay the bills. Perhaps you or someone close to you has become ill or you are worried sick that you will get Covid-19. All of these stresses are adding up and your relationship may be feeling strained. Whilst anxiety is an all time high, your ability to cope with these stressors and to keep your relationship healthy may be waning. Further, any problems in your relationship that existed prior to Covid-19 have probably become amplified.

I do wonder if the divorce rate will increase due to all the stress that Covid-19 has caused. After all, we are most likely to take out our stresses on those we love most, most notably our partners.

Don’t become another divorce statistic. Do what you can NOW to keep your relationship resilient and healthy during this difficult time.

Below are some tips and techniques to keep your relationship afloat:

1. If you are both working from home, try to have your work stations set up in separate locations so that you can focus on your work undisturbed. This also gives you your much needed alone time.

2. Don’t be afraid to set up boundaries and discuss your expectations with your partner (and children). Whilst working from home, it becomes much easier to interrupt each other during the work day. Have a candid discussion about your needs in order to prevent arguments and resentments.

3. Create boundaries for yourself regarding your work. You may be tempted to work through lunch or work later due to the convenience of working from home. Take breaks regularly. Start and end your work day at acceptable times. Remember to maintain a good work-life balance.

4. If you have children at home who need supervision, develop a schedule ahead of time to determine what will work best. You may need to take turns supervising dependent children and develop a shift system with your partner to ensure you are both able to get some work done during the work day.

5. Try not to stress about getting the children’s homeschooling done each day. Most teachers I know completely understand the demands placed on working parents and are flexible with the homework assignments. You may find it helpful to create a schedule for the older kids so they know what is expected of them each day. If you are able to help the younger ones after your work is finished, great. If you’re simply too exhausted, recognize your limits and be kind to yourself. You can only do so much. Perhaps it may be best to wait until the weekend when you have more energy.

6. Make time to take care of yourself, even for only a few minutes if that is all you have available. Go for a walk, listen to music, or simply spend 5 minutes with your eyes closed and take deep breaths. Communicate this need for self-care with you partner.

7. You may be tempted to drink more alcohol to help cope with your stress. Know that alcohol acts as a depressant and can actually fuel your stress. Replace alcohol with healthy strategies like talking to a friend online or exercise.

8. Remember that your partner is likely feeling stressed and overwhelmed too. Each person will respond to stress differently. Try to be empathetic to your partner and ask him/her what you could do to help. Be tender in your responses when you feel provoked. Being defensive or critical towards your partner at these times will make matters worse.

9. Bringing up deep relationship injuries without the support of a professional counsellor is not recommended at this time. Your nerves are already fragile and trying to resolve a hot topic at this time will likely make it worse.

10. It may be difficult to be intimate with you partner as the kids may be staying up later than normal. (I think my kids are becoming nocturnal). There may be less opportunities available for closeness as a result. Continue to be affectionate with you partner and make time for connection. This may require some advanced planning. You can put a movie on to keep the kids busy or plan for some morning sex whilst they’re all sleeping in.

11. You may have set rules for the kids in terms of how much screen time they are allowed. It may be helpful to set a limit for yourself as well. While, screens allow us to stay connected to the outside world, they may lead to disconnection from your partner and family.

12. Remind each other what to be grateful for. Whether that is your health, your job, or your family. It’s important to stay positive and thinking of all that you still have will help keep you optimistic.

13. If your relationship with your partner is under strain, contact a couples therapist. If you are not comfortable with face to face counselling, many therapists are offering online video therapy, which makes it more convenient and reduces the risk of exposure.

We all know that Covid-19 changed much in our lives. Fortunately, one positive change includes that we are able to spend more time with our partner and children. Take advantage of this time, play games with the kids, arrange at home dinner dates with your partner and know that this situation is not going to last forever.

If you feel as though you could benefit from talking with a counsellor please contact Joseanne at www.georgetowncouplestherapist.com on 416 949 9878 or email joseanne@georgetowncouplestherapist.com