April 24, 2020
Couples Coping Strategies While Living and Working at Home During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Written by Rachel Eddins
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced couples and families to work, go to school, and entertain themselves all at home. This comes with a lot of different challenges for couples. I reached out to one of our couples and family therapists, Greta Bellinger on strategies for couples while living and working together.
Watch the video below or read the summary that follows:
How can couples use shelter in place as a time to reconnect?
- Pull out old wedding or vacation photos. Talk about the way you had fun, and travel plans that you had. Revisit how you fell in love, and what brought you together.
- There are also many games with a focus on couples. Try out the Gottman card deck app from Dr. Gottman one of the leading couples researchers. You could use that card deck to ask questions, get to know each other a little bit better, and just rebuild what you have that was a great foundation in the beginning.
- Create a date night at home. Say, invite your wife or husband, “Hey, let’s have a picnic in the backyard.” Create that. There’s a lot of creating fun things that you can do. You could use that card deck to ask questions, get to know each other a little bit better, and just rebuild what you have that was a great foundation in the beginning.
- Play some of your favorite music together and dance in your living room/backyard. There is something about music that really brings us this connectivity and positivity.
What can couples do when both work and the children are home?
- Check-in with your spouse often. For example, tell your husband or wife “This is what I have going on. This is a high priority at work today.” Communication is key.
- Make compromises on your expectations of your spouse or children. You might have screen time limits on your children but maybe isn’t the time to focus on the amount of screen time that your kids are having. This is the time when you alter your rules and regulations around screen time.” So, maybe if you both have conflict in need to both be in a virtual meeting you can throw in that screen time or a new activity for the kids. If you have older kids at home, maybe this is the time that they can watch the younger one.
- Check-in with yourself before escalating the situation. Sometimes we have strong feelings that our partner is thinking one thing when they actually aren’t. Before escalating the situation check in with yourself and ask “My feelings are valid. However, maybe this isn’t a fact.” Try to get to the root of the feeling. How can you create a different dialogue around this? How can you create the opportunity for better communication and a better set of tone?
What can couples in frequent arguments do to end the fighting?
- Normalize conflict. If we aren’t having conflict, one or both of us is probably not saying what we need or want. Having conflict isn’t necessarily a negative thing. The goal of conflict is to bring change.
- When conflict does get out of hand hit pause and make an agreement to come back to this topic. Depending on the level of conflict, it might be 20 minutes, might be an hour, and might be a day depending on how passionate and heated we feel about this. During that time, again, check-in with ourselves recognize your role in the conflict, and how your partner might be feeling.
- Use grounding techniques to help control emotional reactivity. Grounding techniques are helpful to help control the surge of emotions that can come up during heated arguments and remain calm.
Find Resolution with an Experienced Couples Counselor
Sometimes the scope of conflict can be too much for two people to handle alone. In these cases, it is important to seek help from an experienced professional. Our couples counselors are equipped to help with conflict resolution, parenting tips, and coping with the tremendous changes the COVID-19 pandemic has brought upon our households.
Virtual therapy can also bring the convenience of flexibility. We offer safe and secure methods to access a virtual session on evenings and weekends to meet the needs of most families.
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We will continue to share resources to help you feel your best and cope with social distancing on social media. We offer regular live interviews and webinars for emotional, relationship, career, and body wellness.
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