Relationships are under tremendous pressure during these stressful and uncertain times. According to a recent Ipsos poll, nearly one in 10 married or partnered people in America say they are likely to separate from their partner or spouse due to problems that have developed during the pandemic. Therapists are seeing an uptick in couples seeking counseling for a range of common issues.
No Longer a Team
Couples with conflicting ideas on how to confront challenges since the spread of COVID-19 may feel they are no longer in a partnership. For example, many couples are feeling anxious about making decisions that involve their children’s schooling. When spouses are working against each other instead of together that can erode trust. It is important to find a middle ground where you can compromise on the big issues facing your family in this time of crisis.
Money and finances are a common trigger for marital discourse. Experts predict the global pandemic could cause the worst financial disaster in the U.S. since the Great Depression. Many of us are stuck at home and have either taken a pay cut or lost a job. The financial strain can take a toll on our mental health and impact our relationships. Family therapists suggest practicing relationship maintenance behaviors to help strengthen bonds instead of focusing on the stress that tears you apart.
Harboring resentment, masking your feelings, or not communicating honestly with your partner can lead to arguments. Couples need to talk about their needs and concerns in order to feel emotionally supported. Ask questions and don’t make assumptions. No one can read your mind. A communication breakdown often leads to a confrontation which could be avoided if you can address issues openly.
Even if social distancing has us physically cooped up at home some couples may still feel an emotional void. If you find yourself spending more time alone in different rooms and no longer enjoy activities together, your relationship is likely lacking intimacy. If sex and physical intimacy is missing in your marriage it can spark anger, a loss of self-esteem, and infidelity which can lead to irreparable damage to your relationship.
Falling out of Love
One big red flag in a relationship, that should not be ignored, is if you stop thinking about sharing a future together. If you begin to see that the solution to your marital problems is outside the marriage you might be falling out of love with your spouse. If you’re feeling unhappy and uncomfortable with the thought of staying with your partner, in the long run, it’s time to reassess and figure out the underlying issues. Family therapists suggest looking at the upside of your relationship by writing down or noticing all of the things your spouse does “right” and make a point of letting them know you appreciate them.
Don’t Seek Counseling
Many couples who end up divorcing never got professional help. Seeking therapy can help spouses air grievances, improve communication skills, and resolve underlying issues that can help create a deeper connection. If you’ve hit a bumpy patch in your relationship, don’t wait until it’s a full-blown crisis to ask for help. Family therapists, counselors, or clergy members can offer guidance and strategies to prevent irreparable damage. Financial uncertainty, difficulties with child care, and general anxiety about the future are issues many couples are confronting. By seeking expert advice, you may find ways to weather this storm together and feel a stronger bond once a sense of normalcy returns.