Rebuilding Your Relationship in Our New Normal
The pandemic has taken its toll on many of us in a variety of ways. As some sort of semblance of normalcy begins to appear as we start to move into a new phase of the pandemic, you may be looking at your relationship with your partner and thinking, what happened? We had little to no issues prior to the pandemic, but now we have all kinds of them. You may feel greatly distant from your partner, even though you spent a good deal of quarantine being in the same space 24/7. You may feel like the cumulative stress from the past year and a half is coming out in disagreements between the two of you. If this is you, you are not alone. The stress of the last year and a half has taken its toll on many couples. Below are some ideas to consider as a starting point to help you reconnect with your partner as we move into life in the new normal.
How Are You Communicating?
Throughout the past year, you may have noticed a change in how you and your partner communicate, and not necessarily in a positive way. Being around each other more than normal and dealing with the constant uncertainty of the world may have led to unhealthy ways of talking to each other. Pay attention to your communication with each other, specifically how you are communicating with each other when stress is high. Check in with each other about any changes you each have seen in how you talk to each other and explore some changes that could be made. Discuss what each needs from the other to feel heard and supported when communicating.
Think of This as a New Chapter in Your Relationship
Every relationship has multiple chapters, and it can be helpful to think of your relationship entering a new chapter now. Talk with your partner and lay out what you want this next chapter to look like. With life slowing down during quarantine, many people found themselves sitting with themselves and feeling feelings they had not felt in a long time (or ever). As a result, many people have expressed learning new things about themselves and experiencing growth and change as a result. When individuals in a relationship change, the relationship inevitably changes as well.
Think about what you’ve learned about yourself, your partner, and your relationship over the last year and a half. What does this mean for your roles and expectations for the relationship? For example, do boundaries need to be reset, especially if both partners are still indefinitely or permanently working from home? What would these new boundaries look like in this next chapter of your relationship?
Provide Each Other and Your Relationship Nurturing and Compassion
Make sure both you and your partner are providing space for each other to engage in self-care, as well as caring for the relationship in terms of finding ways to reconnect with each other and disconnect from the busyness of everyday life. In addition, practice offering each other, as well as yourself, compassion. Last year was hard, and it is OK if it is taking some time for you and your partner to get back on track.
If this article resonates with you, couples therapy can be a helpful place to work on rebuilding stronger as you and your partner move into the new normal. With so many changes happening around us currently, it makes sense that your relationship may also feel like it needs to adjust as a result. A couples therapist can help you and your partner express how the pandemic has affected your relationship, as well as apply what you have each learned about yourselves over the last year, to help rebuild your bond stronger moving forward through this transition.