I talked about why your relationship or marriage is struggling in the pandemic in this post here.
So, what can you do about it? Are you doomed to spend your relationship or marriage unhappy? Are you destined for breakup or divorce?
Not necessarily, here’s what you can do that you may not have thought of yet.
1. RESOURCE LIKE A MF AND THINK OUTSIDE OF THE BOX
In the previous post, I told you that at the moment you are probably very under-resourced as you cannot access many of your usual coping strategies or ways to be fulfilled.
This is very real, but it also doesn’t mean you are helpless and all is lost.
It’s time to get creative and use the same problem-solving tools you would use with your kids, your work life or business for your relationship wellbeing too.
Identify what your biggest needs are- emotionally, physically, socially, intellectually, spiritually, and sexually. Write a list, make a vision board, journal, or whatever works for you. Think about what lights you up, what and who makes you feel supported, what gives you a feeling of joy.
If this feels like too much because you are already at maximum brain cell capacity- I hear you so don’t panic! Just list your top 5 energy gainers, and make sure one of the things on the list involves somebody other than your partner for social needs.
Now get creative on how you can get those needs met. Schedule it into your diary or calendar so it becomes a non-negotiable.
Remember: Resourcing is not a “nice thing to have”, it’s a necessity.
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
2. RE-CONNECT WITH YOUR VILLAGE
A dear friend of mine who also happens to be a sex and relationship therapist, Cate Mackenzie, told me a while back that a relationship/marriage takes a village, and I absolutely believe that is true.
Your village can comprise of friends, family members, yoga buddies, your community from your Faith community or place of worship, your neighbours, helping and healing professionals, support groups, Facebook groups, the owners of the local grocery shop, or people on a course you’re doing.
Depending on the lockdown restrictions on where you live, there are always ways to connect with people again.
You may want to sign up to a course or program, do more Zoom hangouts with friends or another couple, schedule in walks, hire a coach or therapist, sign up to a class, continue with your choir even if it’s by Zoom, or something else.
Anything where you can re-connect with or create a new supportive village to share the emotional load.
3. TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR PATTERNS
In other words: Own Your Shit.
Own your patterns, own your energy, totally own what you are bringing to the dynamic between the two (or more) of you.
Dr. Harville Hendrix and Dr. Helen LaKelly Hunt talk about, “the space between” a couple, while Dr. Patti Britton often described in my sex coaching training how in couples there are always 3 entities: The two partners and the dynamic between them.
Your relationship/marriage is a living and breathing entity all by itself, made up of what both of you bring to it.
When you are hurting at your partner, your nervous system goes into threat detection mode, which means you will zone in on every.single.little.thing they are doing to deliberately fuck you off and hurt you grrrrrr!!
Without the right tools and awareness, you can’t take a step back and see how both of you are feeding the energetic storm between you.
The more you can bring awareness to your patterns and take a step back- ie own your shit like never before- the more you can see the pain you both cause each other.
It’s not letting your partner, “off the hook” or telling yourself that everything is your fault and that they are a perfect angel. You’re just putting down your weapons and tidying up your space so you can see clearer.
If you think of a relationship like a dance, when one of you changes your steps, the other is going to change theirs too.
4. DIFFERENTIATION IS SEXY
A term used by renowned sex and relationship therapist and researcher, the late Dr. David Schnarch. It means that part of psychological and emotional maturation is understanding that you are different from other people, and that this is ok. You are comfortable in who you are and your own identity, and don’t expect others to be like you.
Often the very traits that attract you to your partner and vice versa, can be the same traits that irritate you the most.
How much can you appreciate your partner’s differences as a complement to you, not a threat?
How much can you let your partner be truly themselves without trying to change them?
How much can you trust that you are whole, safe, and complete even when you and your partner see things differently?
I remember reading the book, Hold Me Tight, by Dr. Sue Johnson for the first time, and this line jumped out at me:
“Recognize and admit that you are emotionally attached to and dependent on your partner in much the same way that a child is on a parent for nurturing, soothing, and protection. Adult attachments may be more reciprocal and less centered on physical contact, but the nature of the emotional bond is the same.”
Dr. Sue Johnson, Hold Me Tight
RELATIONSHIPS ARE MESSY BECAUSE HUMANS ARE MESSY
Love and relationships are messy because- guess what- humans are messy! And you are a human!
Forget the new age narrative about being divine beings of light. Make no mistake: You are a fleshy, eating, breathing, shitting mammal.
One of the biggest lessons I have learned in my own process in therapy and various other modalities is to be ok with mundane-ness in day to day life. That sometimes I will be bored, frustrated, disappointed, sad, angry, jealous, or irritated, and I am still ok.
What do you need to feel this, too?
Can you know that you are whole and ok in boring everyday life?
Even when you are on your period and your partner is farting on the sofa? (Or to be fair, it’s usually me doing most of the farting too).
This has been a time of extraordinary stress for everyone and it’s been a test for every single relationship and marriage.
It may be time for you to seek help and call in your village by hiring a therapist or coach.
Just remember that the pandemic doesn’t have to be the nail in the coffin of your relationship or marriage, it could be the catalyst that strengthens it instead. Everybody and every couple are different, you don’t have to follow the same path that others have.
What have you found most helpful in your relationship or marriage during the pandemic? I’d love to hear in the comments below.
Originally published on https://lucyrowett.com/pandemic-relationship-problems-4-things-to-try/