I am getting a number of calls from partners who are suffering from too much togetherness!
Many are depressed and or highly anxious. For some, alcohol is an issue where it wasn’t prior to quarantining. Tempers are high. In some cases money is short. What should couples do?
To begin, we all need space. Some people need more than others. For some people, being kept at home has actually helped the marriage. These are often people who travel. Now at home, the family undergoes less fluctuation. Kids have both parents the marriage is better. But what about the others?
We all grow up in families with their own set of rule systems. In fact, all we will ever fight about includes:
- How we resolve conflict.
- How close or distant we are and when.
- Who is included in our relationship.
- How we will parent.
The closer we are on space to each other the more these issues arise. The biggest issue I now see with couples is how close they will be and when.
Many partners are working from home. The kids aren’t in school. Everyone is living on top of everyone.
The cornerstone of the marriage is the negotiation of it. This new proximity is but one more thing to negotiate. Everyone should have a small (or large if available) space in the house for alone time. Everyone needs a time out. And family members need to negotiate this space without fear of being attacked for it.
Family meetings might be scheduled weekly or bi-weekly to discuss how and when the family comes together and what independent time is needed.
Exercise is important for everyone. The family might schedule a game night, a family book club night.
Remember the rules for resolving conflict: fight to find out what you are doing wrong, hear the message related to what you are being asked and talk calmly about what is bothersome. To sound emotional means the message gets lost.
I recommend staying out of large groups. However, getting together with a few friends, under ten, outside is quite manageable . We are social animals. We need people.
If people aren’t readily available in small numbers, have chats on Zoom and FaceTime. You can involve older relatives safely this way.
There is much conflicting data these days. And, I believe some hidden agendas and scare tactics promoted by some factions.
Listen to unbiased sources but not too much!
I have found in my practice, that the more anxious people are, the more anxious
they are about catching the virus. Act sensibly. Wash your hands regularly, don’t touch you face, maintain AT LEAST 6 ft between you and others, and cover your mouth if you sneeze or cough.
Keep the conversation going on all levels. Everything is negotiable. Keep drinking to a minimum. Drinking leads to drugged emotion and out of control behavior.
Be safe, be happy. Think about what you have rather than what you don’t have!