The world has changed for all Australian’s, the things we took for granted in the past, like catching up with friends, heading to dinner, the movies, the theatre, a sporting event is today no longer possible as we as a nation wait out this virus.
It has left millions of Australians in their homes, their daily routines disrupted and has created an entirely new family environment, one that will create new stresses and anxieties as we all deal with our new reality.
For couples, this will involve spending an enormous amount of time together in close quarters, which will create a challenging shift in the relationship.
Add children, financial stress, fears and anxieties around the health impacts of COVID-19 to the mix and you have a potential recipe for disaster.
We already know that extended periods together through things such as school or Christmas holidays, that we see a spike in relationship breakdowns, despite the distraction of travel and external events.
What the shape of Australia’s relationships will be after months of isolation is anybody’s guess, but unless we are working to protect our ‘couple bubble’ then we are likely to see many couple’s deciding that once freedom from self-isolation comes, that it is time to seek a new future apart from each other.
Before we found ourselves in this coronavirus nightmare we already had a significant issue with unhappiness in our relationships, with research showing that as many as 6 in 10 of those in a relationship reporting that they are unhappy.
Add to this the fact that the average length of a marriage is around 8 years, then it is fair to say that a high number of couples entered ‘lockdown’ with their marriage not in the best of shape.
Whilst this suggests a sense of ‘gloom and doom’ around the imposed ‘lockdown’s’ impact on our relationships, as someone who has spent much of my life working with couples to help repair their relationships, I take a far more positive view.
This isolation from others is an opportunity for us to work upon ourselves and together to improve the overall health of our relationship.
Consider that all of the external distractions of life are removed, rushing to work, school drop off/pick up’s, kids sport, events, family and friends are for the next little while, no longer a part of our modern lives.
This virus, as dreadful as it has been, has provided couples who may have drifted apart from each other, the opportunity for reconnection. To rediscover our interest in each other, to reignite those feelings of when we first met and create the potential to fall in love all over again.
Now such a wonderful outcome will not happen by chance, relationships are not easy but are well worth the effort to repair and build a strong, safe and secure ‘couple bubble’ for the two of you.
My advice, do not wait and get started now by working on the below:
It’s the number one relationship issue and as you look to cope with being in ‘lockdown’, talk to each other, get on the same page as to how you are going to deal with the isolation. Remember when stress goes up our communication skills go down. Use the power of a friendly face, a warm touch or a smile when communicating. It’s not only about the words. Kindness is important and will help you get your point across.
Be aware of the concerns you both have and work to solutions. If one or both are working, then create the environment so that you can do so with the least amount of disruption.
Check in regularly with each other and deal with issues as they arise to avoid any resentments growing, be open and honest with each other and if your partner raises something that is impacting them that you change, then do so.
Find ‘us’ time
Ensure you set aside time for the two of you, no kids or other distractions with technology, take the time to be in the moment with each other, really look into each other’s eyes and rediscover the power of touch.
Create a Sanctuary
Even the most in love couples need space at times, so create a sanctuary, whether it’s a chair, the spare room or the patio out the back… a place where you can get a break to read a book, meditate – whatever you need to stay sane!
How centred and balanced your home life is will impact upon your relationship with each other, so strive for structure, particularly with kids, have everyone up by 9am, academic times, technology bans for the whole family and share chores evenly, have selected mealtimes together and encourage family conversation.
Get out of the House
If you are virus free and it is permitted under the social distancing rules then get the family out of the house, take the dog for a walk, throw or kick a ball at the park, do what you can to break up the monotony.
Support each Other
The key to a safe and secure relationship is trust, knowing that your partner is there for you when you need them, always has your back and is there to support you. This has not changed in a COVID-19 world where being there for each other has never been more important
The impact of COVID-19 has been devastating to our community, but does not need to be to our relationships if as couples we support each other, take the opportunity to get to know each other without the distraction of our busy lives, then reconnecting with each other may be the one positive we take from this dreadful virus.
If you or your partner are in need of support, Melissa is offering online counselling services and please go here for further details.
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