I don’t know about you, but before the pandemic my #couplesgoals were a lot different than they are now. For many people who were either living with their partners before the quarantine, that forced closeness took its toll. Likewise, for those who were living separately from their significant other and couldn’t spend time together due to social distancing restrictions, that also took its toll.
Were you in the middle of relationship counseling before the pandemic started? Some couples I know were. Some stopped their couples counseling sessions (or their individual sessions) during the quarantine because their counselor didn’t offer telehealth sessions and they had no way to meet up in person. Some kept going with it because they were able to do video sessions.
But that was also problematic for some of the couples who have kids at home, because they felt that they couldn’t have any privacy when they were trying to have their sessions. How would you handle that?
Experts are recommending that, in this stressful time that seems to be getting more stressful everyday, now is not the time to stop working on your mental health — in fact, it’s probably the best time ever to keep it going or to start. And people have more motivation than ever, especially when it comes to interventions like couples or family therapy.
Like most people, my son was pulled out of school, and was suddenly home everyday. While I often work from home, I also used to often go in to offices to work, but now I have no choice but to work remotely, with both of my kids at home. Thankfully, I live in a decently spacious home with outdoor space, so I have some respites, but I know that many Americans don’t. Even with those slight advantages, the past three months have been an emotional rollercoaster. Like most Americans, I’m stressed about money, and because I’m a single mom I don’t have a partner with a stable income to fall back on. I take turns feeling anxious and fearful. I’m sometimes at odds with myself on how to parent my rambunctious teenager and young adult daughter. Even though I love to spend time with my family, we definitely get on one another’s nerves when we’re all home together day after day.
There’s (rightfully) a lot of anxiety around traveling right now. For anyone considering getting out of the house, road trips are coming back into style these days. But still, road trips can be stressful for relationships. While they can also be great, it can be hard to know how you will get along if you haven’t been stuck in a car together for days on end. Even if you have, with the change in our social environment, things can change and you might not get along as well as you have in the past. Road trips can be great for bonding with kids, but if there’s relationship drama, the whole car can feel it and no one will have fun.
If you’re considering a road trip as a way to strengthen your relationship or see if it can rebound from the stress of the quarantine, I encourage you to do so! But, do some prep first. Travel allows you both to grow because you get to experience new things together and spend time together. You learn how to be supportive of each other in the midst of experiences that can be stressful.
A good relationship is all about give and take, learning and adapting, and negotiating your differences respectfully. Relationship counseling can help you with that if you’re struggling. If you notice that your partner doesn’t exhibit any flexibility when you’re planning or embarking on your travel, that can give you an important clue to what the future might hold, and it would be something worth talking to a counselor about.