After passing the one-year mark of the pandemic in Canada, I reflect as a therapist on the impact it’s had on our relationships. Never in our lives have we recognized the importance of our emotional connections with others. With COVID protocol and restrictions, we are in an altered reality in how we live, work, and connect with others. Things for the time being will continue to be with some restrictions in all aspects of our lives.
COVID fatigue has impacted many of us. Human beings are social beings. We desire connection with others. There is some light in our situation with the administration of vaccines, but the level of infection and new variants mean we may still not be able to return soon to anything close to what life resembled before. How has this impacted couples and families in their day-to-day experience?
For some couples and families, the pandemic has exasperated challenges that they faced before. For others, it has been a silver lining where their strengths have been highlighted. I have seen both circumstances in my therapy office.
In lockdown, partners and families have become more reliant on each other than ever before. Prior to the pandemic, completing tasks and duties would have normally involved people helping from outside the home. Currently, most of the tasks and duties are completed from within the couple and/or family. In light of these restrictions, it’s become that much more important to reach out for emotional support from others virtually.
It’s important, for example, that you set up routines and rituals that are possible within the pandemic. For those couples and families who are separated due to lockdown connecting via texting, phone calls and video chat can help bridge the gap. Other ways of connecting can be through writing letters and sending them in the mail or sending a gift from a company that offers delivery. I encourage you to try something unexpected or different.
If you are in close quarters with your partner and family, what you are looking for is balance. You need time together and time on your own. Be careful of thinking that since you have been together all day that it equals connection. That is not the case. Proximity does not equal closeness. Closeness is created when you intentionally turn towards your partner and family members, reduce other distractions, and share in quality time together.
During the pandemic, the types of connecting activities we can participate in can feel limited. It is helpful to find alternatives that are enjoyable but are within the protocol. Small things make all of the difference such as sharing meals and going for walks together. During your independent time, you can go for a walk, read a book, call a friend or the like. Make sure to carve out that time at least a few times weekly.
You might realize that some of the things that you did before the pandemic as a couple or a family were your “fire.” There were places you could visit that brought you energy. That could have been travelling, going to the gym, meeting up with friends, going to see live music, etc. Instead of waiting for life to return to “normal” it might be more helpful to think of new activities that you can do that might be recharging in new ways. Try to think “outside the box” with new ways of relaxing, playing, adventuring, and connecting. Here are examples of what my clients have come up with when faced with this challenge:
Giving small surprise gifts and messages.
Camping and outdoor activities.
Exploring within their cities and finding new trails and parks.
Weekly dress-up day – get dressed up and order take out from a favourite restaurant.
Learn a new outdoor sport together.
Pick a new recipe and cook together.
Discover new online games you can play together with family abroad.
Join an online book club together – discuss what you’re reading with each other and the group.
Build a backyard box garden.
Make it your challenge to come up with your own ideas and ask your loved ones what they can think of!
Get Help Today To Improve Your Relationship
At MyLife Counselling, we have several therapists who are experienced in relationship counselling. If you’re noticing that your relationship is taking a turn for the worse during the pandemic, don’t hesitate to reach out. Book with our therapists instantly online or speak to our Client Care Specialist to discuss which relationship therapist is right for you by calling 1-800-828-9484 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.