Wise words from Lauren Cloud, LMFT
We have all had to face drastic changes these last few days and weeks. You may have found yourself wondering, “How can I be stuck with my partner in the same space for this long without killing them?” I will go through a few suggestions for maintaining some sense of normalcy in your relationship during the quarantine.
- Limit time on social media and news outlets! There is no shortage of all types of information right now, ranging from high quality to fake news. No matter which kinds you may be ingesting, they are not good for your mental health in large doses. You might feel more anxious and afraid, which will make you a worse partner in all those micro-interactions we have throughout our days. It could make you snippier, quieter, or more explosive. Be an informed citizen but leave space mentally for yourself and your partner.
- Practice gratitude. Couples are facing unique challenges right now in the way of financial uncertainty, fear for loved ones, and questions of job security. Give these things the appropriate amount of attention, but don’t forget to focus on what is going well. You might even take time at the end of the day to try and come up with at least three things you are grateful for or that went well that day.
- Use “I Statements”. When couples argue, they often use “You Statements”, like “You always…” “You never…” “You’re such a….” Instead, use I statements. I statements aren’t accusatory, but merely state how you feel because of a fact. “I get worried when you don’t answer me right away” sounds better than “You never respond when I ask you something.”
- Use your wise mind. Especially if you have been with this person for a while, you already know which phrases, tones, and behaviors set you both up for a fight. Tap into your wisdom and speak from a kind place. This is a very difficult time. Stress is high and there are a great deal of uncertainties. Remember that everyone is doing their best and do what works, not what doesn’t work.
- Take time for yourself. It may be challenging with everyone at home right now but find a way to do something for you. “You can’t pour from an empty cup!” You’ll be a better partner, parent, and person if you make time to recharge your batteries.
- Check your expectations. Expectations are relationship killers. During quarantine and high stress, ask yourself if your expectations of your partner or a situation are the same, higher, or lower. Ask if they are realistic and also if they have been properly communicated to your partner.