Have you recently noticed things about your partner that you didn’t before? Is he or she constantly leaving dishes in the sink or chewing his or her food too loudly?
Perhaps you've noticed that certain parenting skills are not a core strength and that home schooling with the kids is shining a light on how little patience your partner has?
If you're noticing details about your partner that are bothering you, you're in good company! Many couples are reporting that they're seeing things in their partners that they find agitating.
During the corona virus crisis, couples are spending the majority of their day together. This means having to navigate the relationship differently than usual; this includes working, living, parenting and everything in between.
I like to think that this is a great opportunity to hash out grievances that may have been avoided or put on the back burner.
“Anxiety is rampant and people are potentially taking out their anxiety on each other”, says Julie Schwartz Gottman, who co-founded the marital counseling Gottman Institute in addition to writing many best sellers with husband John Gottman. Gottman adds “relationships that are a bit unsteady, uncomfortable and have some tension don’t always have ways of dealing with stress together and can spiral downwards”.
Reports of stress due to the children being away from school, financial hardship, differences of opinion regarding what constitutes social distancing and fear of illness can push some couples over the brink. Below are some tips that can prove helpful when struggling during this very unprecedented time.
Avoid criticism- Now is NOT the time to be pointing out every mistake you see from your partner. Rather than pointing out mistakes, tune in to what your partner IS doing well and make it a point to express appreciation for it, even if it’s for the simple things like taking out the garbage, making a yummy lunch, or making the coffee. Some couples specialists recommend telling your partner 3 things that you appreciate/admire about them before going to bed. This interaction aides in keeping our emotional bank accounts full.
Let them have their feelings about COVID-19- Some spouses are not going to see eye-to-eye about how bad things are going to get and it doesn’t mean that anyone is wrong. Instead of dismissing how your partner feels, be curious and try to understand the way your partner sees things and why. Remember to use empathy and validation when communicating with your partner. Say things such as “it sounds like you’re really upset” or “I can understand as to why you might feels that way”. Do your best to tune into your partner’s inner world as they speak of their feelings and do your best to repeat or reflect it back to them. This shows that you are present with them in the moment and that you are working towards understanding their position on things.
State your true needs- We all need to remember that our partners are not mind readers. Therefore we need to avoid assuming that they know what we need, regardless of how long you’ve been together. It’s productive when people state needs and to be specific about it. Instead of saying “I need you to help me with the kids more” say “I would really appreciate it if you can check our son’s homework every other night around 7 pm”. Instead of saying “we need a better sex life” say “I’d love it if we can have sex at least 2 times this week”. We all need to be clear on what we want or need, as we cannot expect our partner to guess and get it right at all time.
I hope this adds some insight into making some of your interactions better with your partner. Remember, it’s ok to get it wrong as long as you can recognize it, take responsibility, and work to make it better for next time.
For more help with your relationship visit Jackie Schwartz, LMFT's bio. If you're ready to invest in your relationship, contact our office today. We are offering sessions in office at our Fort Lauderdale location as well as phone and video sessions through a secure platform.