What a change to our lives the past 6-weeks has been as we hunker down in our homes and wait out an invisible killer.
Things we once took for granted, like time with friends, weekends away or a quiet dinner out with that special other are all things that now live in our memory, as we sit and wait for life to return to some sense of normality.
Zoom, something many associated with a fast-moving car in the past, is now how we connect with our loved ones and friends, with online chats and parties the new norm for millions of Australians.
Welcome to our new normal, the Zoom party to catch up with those we are missing during the coronavirus lockdown
These restrictions on our social life are not the only thing that has changed, with accessing essential support services, such as counselling, something that is no longer as easy as it once was.
This is a significant issue, with research that is emerging from the coronavirus lockdown suggesting that more than half of Australians are experiencing stress and increases in anxiety as the fight against the virus rolls on.
In my practice, which is now completely online, I am seeing not only this stress and anxiety grow in those I am working with, but also how the time in lockdown is creating change in how we are interacting with each other as couples.
Through this time, I have seen an upsurge in those seeking online relationship counselling support with three distinct situations emerging for couples in a COVID-19 world.
More and more Australians are seeking online support to help with the issues their relationships are facing in a COVID-19 world
1. Learning to live apart together
Many couples who faced issues prior to being forced into lockdown have quickly come to the decision that as soon as there is daylight in the doorway, they are off.
Without the stress and pressure of lockdown, these couples would have had the opportunity to work through their issues with external support, potentially saving their relationship.
This extended time together, coupled with the issues that have caused harm to their relationship in the past, such as poor listening, infidelity, lack of intimacy and repeated arguments has seen them come to the mutual decision to end their relationship as soon as possible.
Counselling for couples who find themselves in this situation is focused on what the end looks like and how they can work together to continue to coexist under the same roof, as peacefully and respectfully as possible, being particularly mindful of how they communicate if there are children in the home.
This is what I call ‘learning to live apart together.’
2. From ‘superheroes’ to ‘super cranky’
We love our kids, those delightful little creatures that seek all our focus and attention during that golden age when they see their parents as superhuman beings before our darlings hit the age of the ‘teenage grunter.’
As fabulous as this time is in our child’s life, it can become tiresome and draining as we attempt to entertain our children without the distraction of kinder’, school, social outings and parties.
Remember when Mum and Dad were the Superheroes we love the most
This has seen a shift in the type of counselling that I have traditionally provided, as couples who have had little issues with each other in the past, are now finding themselves in troubled waters when it comes to coping with the kids at home.
One thing is clear, entertaining the kids in lockdown is proving a tough gig, this is in turn placing pressure and stress on relationships and creating an upsurge in those seeking outside support to help them through.
This has seen me throw on my ‘how to cope with the kids’ parenting hat as I work with couples on not only their communication with each other, but as importantly the structure of their day.
The real key here is supporting each other and working together to a clear plan you both are on board with, making sure that not too much of the ‘entertain the kids’ falls to one person, whilst implementing the structure that kids thrive on.
3. The ‘bright spark’ in this coronavirus nightmare
There has been very little brightness to this virus that has caused so much devastation across the globe.
One small spark I have seen is in couples who through the busyness of everyday life, such as work, endless commitments, running around for the kids, had become distant from each other, now starting to communicate again.
This is the positive side to lockdown as through spending more time with each other, they have reconnected with the passion they felt when they first met, realising that they are still very much in love.
Time together during the coronavirus lockdown can help us to reconnect
It has been wonderful to see this reconnection bloom in the couples I have been working with and if you are experiencing these growing feelings of love, now is the time to double down, to find that special time for a date night and get the kids to bed early for some intimate time.
For these lucky couples COVID-19 may well have arrived at the right time!
These are the most difficult times we as a community has faced in my lifetime, so stay safe, support each other. We will get through this and remember that we are always stronger together.
Until next time!
If you are in need of support to help you and your partner through this most difficult of times, Melissa is available for online counselling and please go here for further details.
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