Is lockdown a shutdown in your relationship? Lockdown is a container that is a great test for whether a relationship can thrive or not. All relationships take focus and priority, especially in covid times.
If couples accept the reality of what there is and focus on building:
Lockdown is a wonderful opportunity to build a great foundation for their relationship.
If instead, they choose to be frustrated by the limitations, the restrictions and what is wrong that can cause the foundations to crumble, and the relationship beginning to break down.
I believe we haven’t yet seen the far-reaching effect of Covid on relationships and the breakdown of them. The impact of all this uncertainty and stress will have a long-term negative effect on our physical and mental/emotional health.
The stress puts us into fight, flight or freeze mode and the body is being flooded by the stress hormones of adrenaline and cortisol.
The physical effects include poor sleep, high blood pressure, obesity, weakened immune system and so much more.
The impact on mental/emotional health is damaging and can create insecurity, poor self-image, unhappiness, depression, reduced energy and mental fatigue.
The mental illness rebounds will resonate for years to come.
In times of fear, change and uncertainty we need comfort and closeness.
We do not want to be alone. In a lockdown, the choice of partners is more limited, and we may seize onto what is there and not be the best version we can of ourselves.
The danger is that, once the door on lockdown is finally opened, that primal need for company and security will diminish. Also, people will be able to socialise more widely and see that there is a much greater choice out there.
Couples may then look forward at others through the lens of possibility and look back at the lockdown period through the lens of negativity. They may focus on what was wrong with their partner, what irritated them and get this out of context. This will not help Couples and keep them together.
With so much change it is a great time for couples to pause and reflect on what has gone well in the relationship and what could be even better.
If this is done with an:
- attitude of openness
- wanting to co-create a better future then the relationship can only improve.
If couples wait, the likelihood is that frustrations and resentments will be suppressed and leak out in disconnection or arguments, then the relationship is likely to deteriorate.
Tips on how to help improve relationships if you have found this year has negatively impacted yours.
- Make time as a couple: Ensure that when you part in the morning and come back at night that you say hello and goodbye in a way that makes you both feel connected. Create moments of intimacy where it is as if the world stops and nothing else matters.
- Eat Together: Make dinner or other mealtimes special occasions where you are sitting together, free of electronic distractions and can just talk.
- Commitment: Once a week set aside about an hour for a Check-in. Reflect on what has gone well in your relationship and what could be even better. Share appreciation of 5 positive things your partner has done and then choose one issue in your relationship that could be better. Explain why this is important to you and what you would like.
- Do some fun stuff: When did you last have fun together? Unleash the child within and do things that will make you both smile and laugh.
- Express your feelings and emotions to each other: If your partner is doing things that irritate or upset you; tell them how that makes you feel. Do this in the moment rather than burying it and allowing it to fester. Use words like ‘I feel….’ and avoid blaming words like ‘You…’ This helps you dig below the stuff, the shoes in the hall, the messy sink, damp towels on the floor, into the real feelings, in the moment.
- Grateful for: Every evening share three things that you are grateful for during the day. It is a great way of getting your subconscious into a positive frame before you sleep.
- Hug: we need 4 hugs a day for survival, 8 for maintenance and 12 for growth. They should be at least 20 seconds each to get the feel-good hormone, Oxytocin, flowing. Get hugging!
- Be open: Talk about how you are feeling. It is OK to be sad, worried or down. Let your partner help and allow these feelings to flow through you.
Working as a therapist I know firsthand that if you’re having trouble connecting, don’t ignore it. Seek support and get back into enjoying your life and living in the present.
Tune in to my Empowered Marriage Podcast to learn more. This fortnight’s podcast is available now and discusses this topic in more depth.
Is Lockdown a shutdown in your relationship? – https://www.powerofchange.com.au/empowered-marriage-podcast/