An amusing image comes to mind of a line of people outside the ‘divorce court’ with the title: life after coronavirus.
It’s easy to assume that isolation will lead to relationships bursting into flames due to the intense pressure of having to spend so much time indoors with an a***hole. Sorry! I meant our delightful partner and loved ones.
I asked a married man the secret to maintaining a relationship during coronavirus. He paused, seemed confused but then said, “I don’t know that it’s any different, you have to keep doing what you normally do”. When questioned further he said, “give each other space, co-operate, work together, compromise, support each other and communicate”.
I guess the pressure of the pandemic will either turn coal into diamonds or it will just continue to be coal. If the relationship was already under duress, it is going to blow up once you are stuck together day after day. This makes me think of a parallel journey that retirees go through: I’ve heard that many people realise that they don’t actually like their partner once they have to spend a lot of time with them.
I have a few troubled male clients. Their relationships are in need of repair and they don’t know what to do. For some its as simple as asking: “Would you use a motorbike/car/boat that hasn’t been maintained? Do you know how you listen to every sound your motorbike makes, and you act accordingly so that you don’t die? Go maintain your relationship with the same amount of enthusiasm and care; listen to every sound your partner makes.”
It’s a beautiful moment for me when they return with a big smile to tell me they have achieved success and their relationship is improving. Even more incredible is the 20-year-old man who comes to his partner’s (my client’s) sessions to learn how to help her deal with her anxiety. It is one of the most beautiful things I get to see – two young people requesting coaching/guidance on how to make a relationship work. That’s a helluva lot more satisfying than trying to stop 40-year-olds shouting abuse at each other after years of built-up resentment.
How do we maintain love during coronavirus? Listen, pay attention, provide space, compromise and collaborate.
Be interested in how you can make your partner smile and then do that (within reason) often.
Suzanne Loubris is a relationships counsellor and organisational psychologist. You’ll find her at Leah Dique & Associates in Nambour, or visit behaviourthatworks.com.