How is your relationship standing up to the strain of Lockdown?
We have had a mixture of reactions from clients regarding this question; some are genuinely loving it, being able to spend more time together; having the opportunity to reminisce about good times from the past and making plans for the future. Household chores can also be more fun when shared and certainly get done quicker.
There are other couples, quite naturally, who are feeling the strain. If the relationship is not working well, the enforced time spent together can add additional pressure with nowhere to escape to, arguments ensue and unless properly resolved can simmer on for days, eventually boiling over to create a real problem situation.
Children can also play a big part in the relationship, both for good and bad reasons. Some couples are reporting that the best thing about Lockdown spending quality time with their children. Thinking up new games to play as well as the old favourites, letting them help with the cooking, housework, or gardening, teaching them life skills while having fun together.
For other couples, the children only seem to add to the stress levels; we hear things like “I never get any peace, they are so noisy, they always want attention, I worry when they go quiet because I know they are up to something.”
The bottom line here is that children will be children; they have not yet learned to deal with their feelings and emotions and will reflect and react to their parent’s emotions, whether positive or negative. If there is a lot of stress in your relationship, they will feel that stress and reflect the way you react to it because it is the way they have learned from the people they trust the most.
So here is the best tip I can give that will hopefully help you to get through this time with your sanity intact and it works equally well for happy or unhappy relationships. It may sound strange at first, but arrange a business meeting with your wife/husband/partner. Discuss the time and date together and make sure you arrange a time when you know you won’t be disturbed for an hour.
You can discuss the agenda or make separate ones, but there are stringent rules that you must both agree to. You must give each other equal time to talk and listen, and you must be open and honest at all times.
Start the meeting by saying something nice to each other; it doesn’t have to be over the top, it’s not a competition. Maybe something like “that shirt/dress suits you” “I like your hair like that”, “thanks for making my lunch earlier, I enjoyed it.”
Then follow the rules of the meeting and talk through whatever you need to bring up; explain what the problem is, how the situation makes you feel and what you suggest to make it better.
Remember that all relationships are a compromise, you need to give a little to get something back, so be prepared to negotiate.
Allow around 5 minutes per subject and end the meeting on a positive note, repeat something nice, or even just thank each other for a good productive session. Make sure to write down what has been agreed and stick it on the fridge as a reminder. Make sure to set a date and time for the next meeting.
This approach will probably feel strange at first and may not seem to go well, but stick with it, agree to a meeting once a week. You will soon come to realize how useful it can be and how much calmer your life becomes because if you have any niggles during the week, put them on your agenda so you can talk about them in an adult way at the next meeting.
Give it a try, you have nothing to lose, but such a lot to gain.