As humans, we are designed to live in a community.  This is one of the reasons we are so wired to nurture relationships, especially when it comes to finding our soulmate, that particular person who will make you feel like a “million dollars.” The longing for relationships, romantic relationships, is also hard-wired into our system to ensure the preservation and reproduction of our species.

As you can see, having that special connection with someone is a biological and spiritual need that we must fulfill. Therefore, finding that “special” person, in the majority of cases, becomes the most important and critical decision you will ever make.

However, because of that biological and natural inclination to find a mate, sometimes we don’t take the time to get to know each other well enough, and we end up missing some critical red flags.

Most of the time, people will ignore the symptoms that something is not working because a routine is easy to follow, which gives us a false sense of safety and control.

 

Under normal circumstances, we’ll have periods of separation. Usually, people will leave their house to pursue their job, career, or business which creates a “natural balance,” and personal space. Even the most unhealthy relationships might be able to survive and function at some level. You leave your house for work, and come back usually exhausted. So, there is not much time for conflict or the resolution of conflict. And even under those “normal” circumstances, couples might be already struggling.

This might not be your case. However, couples are indeed feeling the effect of COVID-19 in different ways. While working with my clients during this pandemic, many have expressed how a very “casual” and otherwise “normal” conversation might turn into a big argument.

And this is predictable because you now have the time to notice things that may not bother you in the past. Small things one might over look or usually wouldn’t argue about are becoming triggers because of the additional stress, fear and under lying anxiety brought on by this unprecedented situation.

You feel stuck and you may be thinking that you are now with someone who is not even capable of understanding your needs.  These are the harmful effects of COVID-19 as it is takes over your relationship, and you may feel like you can’t stop it.

So, what to do?

First, we must understand how the brain works to find a solution.

The negative effects in our mind are produced and enhanced because of the tendency of the mind to focus and respond strongly to negative events and experiences. We are wired for survival, and so every time we feel threatened, we get triggered, creating a range of different emotional states, from anger, to stress, anxiety, sadness, and so on.  You might even experience a feeling of loneliness, even when your partner is right there next to you.

 In times of crisis, usually unhealthy behavior will be triggered as we feel unsafe and out of control.

 

The quarantine and isolation will usually trigger two types of scenarios depending on how stable and strong your relationship truly is:

 

  • The first one could be that the couple becomes closer, and the relationship becomes stronger as they find ways to manage and navigate the uncertainties together using healthy tools.        Note: Please do not have false expectations if you are already struggling with your relationship under “normal” circumstances.
  • The other scenario could be that you drift apart as the fear caused by uncertainties will trigger the worse in you, and in your partner.

The question is obvious, would this be the time to end a relationship? Or, is it worth fighting for it?

As a global community, we are all suffering from the stressful effects of COVID-19, which will affect our emotional and mental states. As mentioned before, when we feel threatened, we tend to become irrational. Therefore, our ability to think clearly and objectively is impacted.       

Depending on your particular situation, you might want to take a step back and avoid making impulsive decisions unless your health is in danger. You might want to hire a professional to help you understand what’s going on objectively.

I know it’s easier said than done, but I am here to offer you:

Seven Tips to Help you Create a Healthier Relationship During Unhealthy Times.

1) Check in with yourself: Make sure you check your own emotions first. We have a tendency to blame something or someone else for our shortcomings. So, we must take responsibility for our own emotional state before we begin the blaming game. Take time to ask yourself what it is that is triggering you and why.

2) Stop Pretending that things are “ok”: If you are having challenges now, it is very probable that you had known for a while that something is not working in the relationship. You chose to ignore it because you are afraid of the consequences. Either because you are still in love, you are scared of change, or you are just afraid to let go. However, pretending that everything is ok does not help. Instead, it makes things worse because you are expecting the other person to behave differently without having the proper tools to improve and change the situation.

3) Come to Terms with the Facts: To solve a problem, you must come to terms with the fact that there is a problem, to begin with. So, yes, you must accept that something is off, and it’s not working. However, it’s easy to go into denial, because it feels safe. In my book, The Becoming of a Light Warrior, I openly write about a particular situation when my husband and I faced a tough time in our relationship. He admitted that he was starting to have feelings for another woman. I went into denial because it was so painful to face it. The truth was that the other woman was not the issue. The issue was that we had lost sight of each other’s needs, and that impacted our intimacy
4) Stop avoiding difficult conversations: The basis of human psychology is to run from pain toward pleasure, which is sometimes referred to as the pleasure-pain principle. This is our motivating force behind our behavior to seek instant satisfaction and gratification. Then, it’s only natural that when we feel uncomfortable about anything, the first impulse is to avoid it at all costs. It is human nature to avoid difficult conversations and conflicts. However, when we are not able to have these conversations, then the chances to work with the problem and find solutions are minimal. Therefore, hire a professional to help you prepare for these challenging but needed conversations.

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5) Understand your Emotional and Spiritual Needs: As humans, we have biological needs that are undeniable. We need to eat, sleep, nurture our bodies, and release waste. If we are not able to do that, our body will suffer from illnesses and physical pain. In the same way we have biological needs, we also have emotional and spiritual needs including the need for stability and safety, the need for fun and uncertainty, the need for feeling valuable and unique, the need for love and connection, the need for growth, and finally, the need for contribution.

When we don’t fulfill these needs in healthy ways, we’ll fulfill them in destructive ways. If you don’t understand and know these needs and how you are currently meeting them, then your emotional, mental, and spiritual states will be affected. Right now, you and your partner might have different needs, which can create chaos when you don’t understand them. Becoming aware of these subconscious needs is vital. During my couple coaching sessions, the first thing we will perform, is a human needs assessment, so that you become clear on what’s missing, what’s triggering you or your partner, communication style, fears, and expectations. Also, it is a great tool to understand your partner’s needs, and where he/she is coming from so that we can find solutions.

6) Take time for Intimacy: Social distancing is not applicable when you are at home sharing the same space 24/7, or even more when you are sharing a small apartment. As we already examined, when you are spending that amount of time with your partner, the dynamic changes every day. For instance, some people might be experiencing an aversion to having intimacy as a result of anxiety. If this is the case, it is imperative to have the conversation. This might fall into the category of “difficult conversations,” see advice above.

Other people are finding that sex is just the right antidote to stress. As we know, sex can become a great stress reliever. Studies show that people who have an active sexual life develop a stronger immune system to fight against viruses, germs, and other intruders. The most important thing is to acknowledge your feelings since there is no right or wrong way to handle these interesting times.

7) Practice self-love and self-care: As we are presented with new challenges such as homeschooling, inability to go out and spend time with our loved ones, many individuals are feeling exhausted and stressed out. When we are stressed out, our immune system suffers, and we are not able to fight the virus. Also, our emotional and mental state will suffer because we become moody or rude as a result, which will have an impact on our relationships. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that you carve out time for yourself. Taking time for yourself is not selfish.  It is a requirement that helps you “show up” for your loved ones when they need you the most.  So, exercise, rest, take a bath or a nap so that you have the proper energy and motivation to work on your relationship.

How to Keep a Healthy Relationship During Unhealthy Times!

by | Apr 10, 2020 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

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