Life has been especially challenging this past year, and the pandemic has been a struggle for many families, couples and relationships. It is not easy navigating major disruptions in life, scares about health, financial distress, distance from loved ones, uncertainty about the future, and day-to-day living through it all. The good news after a tough year is that positive advancements are underway, and it is time to remain hopeful. For couples and families who have experienced relationship strains, here are a few ways to keep perspective and stay strong.
Work Toward Respecting Differences
Opposites attract, but differences in communication styles, money management, life priorities, and responses to stressful situations can often lead to increased tension, fighting, and misunderstanding. In a time when many couples are dealing with living in close quarters all day, managing frontline or essential worker stress, or dealing with difficulties of remote learning for kids, these underlying differences can feel more pronounced and frustrating. Each person has strengths and weaknesses, as well as different personalities. Try to understand these differences, learn from each other, and appreciate how many of these traits often enhance compatibility.
Fight Fair and Actively Listen
Communication is key to finding common ground. Underneath criticisms and fights is usually a request for an unmet need, and learning how to articulate needs without resorting to personal attacks or name-calling will help in fostering real communication and progress. Healthy communication is so important in not letting underlying resentments fester, and learning to actively listen without jumping to defense helps in strengthening intimacy.
Make Time for Each Other Individually and Together
When people are feeling physically and emotionally drained, it is hard to connect. Think of healthy and creative ways to give each other space and time to recharge. Then, even though the ‘divide and conquer’ mentality may work to tackle household responsibilities, it is still important to prioritize quality time together. Otherwise, many couples fall into the trap of spending the whole day together, without ever actually being together.
In stressful times, it is especially important to be patient with yourself and each other, give more praise and express gratitude often, admit mistakes and apologize for any hurt. Many couples benefit from the expertise of a licensed clinician to offer insight, advice, and perspective. To speak with a clinician through your Employee Assistance Program (EAP), contact ACI Specialty Benefits anytime at 800.932.0034, firstname.lastname@example.org, or download the myACI Benefits mobile app. The EAP program is confidential, free to use, and open to all family members.