The violent COVID19 pandemic that has taken the world by storm not only crashed financial markets and medical systems but also put physical barriers in our over-connected world and cramped our lives and couple relationships in the tiny space of our home.
As imago therapy practitioners, we have witnessed quite an ironic situation in people’s lifestyles. Social distancing was on everybody’s lips, while the intense, forced couple symbiosis that happened at home was a little bit overlooked. “Home is my castle” and “my partner is my prince” became quite hard to achieve.
We were encouraged to stay away from the crowds, including our friends and family, but while we were social-distancing, we were also oversharing our personal space with our kids and significant others. We quickly became small high-density planets drifting away in the world. New or old couples during quarantine, all over the world, experienced some tough times.
The main uncertainties couples emerging from quarantine have to deal with
As couples therapy professionals, we can share that “personal space”, “financial worries”, “children conflict”, “couples uncertainty” were the main keywords in our online imago therapy sessions.
Now that we’re slowly recovering from the lockdown, the uncertainties remain and we need to solve these issues before they gnaw deeper at our relationships.
Many couples during the quarantine were faced with financial uncertainties. Truth be told, it’s difficult to talk money even during normal circumstances, but when a global pandemic is threatening to storm the financial markets worldwide, things can get a little rough.
Couples are dealing with a lot of stress, as many people are left without a job or worry about their company’s strength during these challenging times. Anxiety creeps in, and even though deep down you know you’re on the same side of the table, you might end up attacking or criticizing each other.
Reassessing goals, reviewing your budget, discussing each other’s job security, and creating an emergency fund together are just a few practical solutions to cope with the couple’s financial worries during Coronavirus times. However, it is easier said than done; these are practical steps that need to be taken after the emotional ones have been taken. We’ll get back to this later.
Loss of personal space
Couples during quarantine have been struggling with personal space. The reasons are simple. Most of us aren’t used to spending a lot of time together. We generally meet in the evening, enjoy dinner together, go out at the weekends or on vacation; so, during normal days we’re out and about, each one of us doing our own thing and enjoying it. It’s all about the balance between Symbiosis and differentiation.
Whilst poets might say that “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. We think it’s not absence, it’s respecting each other’s personal space. The good news is, it can be done. You can balance workspace – home space- personal space living in the same house. It only takes a little more energy on everyone’s side.
Ironically enough, staying at home all day can get a little more tiring than running errands outside from dawn to dusk. Yes, having to fulfill all of our six basic human needs in an enclosed space is very exhausting, but not impossible.
Conflict over the children
It seems parents have been having more conflict with children since the pandemic outbreak. An online survey conducted in the USA, in March, showed some pretty worrying findings:
- 52% of the parents think that financial concerns are affecting their parenting
- 1 in 5 parents have admitted to slapping their children at least once since the lockdown
- 19% of parents said that the yelling and screaming has increased after the lockdown
- 15% said they increased the use of discipline
Dealing with unexpected family issues
While couples are spending a lot more time together with each other, they are also spending less time with their friends and family who don’t live with them. Keeping in touch with them and worrying about their wellbeing has been “standard practice” during the lockdown.
So, how does a couple deal with emerging from quarantine and adapting to this new lifestyle that the Coronavirus pandemic has imposed on us?
Understand what it is that you are feeling at the moment and collaboratively heal as a couple
Understanding what your partner is actually feeling at a certain moment and communicating your own feelings on the subject is a first step to bridging the virtual gap between you. Understanding that each of you has got his/her own deep issues and that you are projecting them on each other in times of great stress and anxiety is the first step to healing.
Understanding your vulnerabilities and working together on overcoming them can only be done through dialogue and with a little bit of courage. It can be hard to open up this way, even to your life partner, but you need to trust that he/she will do the same.
Moreover, replacing judgment with curiosity and understanding for each other’s feelings is a big step forward to a better couple synergy. It’s a process and both of you should understand that.
Even though you are in the same room, you live in two separate worlds, and crossing the bridge between you at times should go smoothly.
Does imago relationship therapy cross “the bridge between worlds
The truth is, no couples therapy in the world can magically do that on its own. It needs your commitment and availability to listen, share, and engage in active dialogue with your partner.
We think that a relationship, especially one emerging from a global pandemic is always a work in progress and it requires commitment, dedication, and acceptance. Love, at first sight, does exist, but relationships without effort and commitment on both parts do not. If you feel like you are meant to be together, you know you love each other, but things just don’t add up recently, it’s because you’re in a couple crisis.
Keeping couples connected for over 30 years
We are a couple ourselves. We are Ruthie and Joel, Certified Imago Couples Therapists and we are ready to hear you out via online or in person.
Our Couples Therapy begins with talking, asking the right questions, and listening; we’ll share and turn the monologue into a dialogue. These are not just wonderful words, these are real possibilities.
So let’s get in touch and book an introductory conversation with us. We look forward to meeting you ad helping you to get a sense of perspectives on your relationship emerging from the Coronavirus pandemic.