How To Come Out Of The Pandemic A Stronger Couple
October 25th, 2021 at 4:37 am
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but what about during a pandemic? Some couples were forced into long-distance relationships when lockdowns and strict social distancing measures were introduced to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Other couples were locked down with each other, which also has its complications. The pandemic has shone a spotlight on relationships as many partners felt lonely and distant from each other, and experienced more stress and conflict.
Ms. Pang Chia Yee, Lecturer from the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Taylor’s University, shares her insights into how the pandemic has affected relationships and mental health, as well as advice.
The Pandemic’s Effect On Relationships
There are a few kinds of pandemic stress such as working from home, health issues, finances, and etc., that would have an effect on the dynamics of a relationship. It is like a double-edged sword that can bring two individuals closer or further apart – physically or emotionally. These external stressors may challenge the coping mechanisms of individuals and also alter the dynamics within a relationship, forcing couples to work together to adapt and conquer challenges that comes along. These changes could either make or break the relationship.
Loneliness & Mental Health
Loneliness in general does affect mental health. There is a difference in being alone and feeling alone. Some people may feel comfortable being alone, but it does not necessarily mean that they feel lonely. The feeling of loneliness in a relationship does not necessarily equate to being apart, but it could also be in the presence of others. The disconnection with others and the feeling of not being understood could easily lead to a rise in tension. The buildup of such emotional cut-off would lead to an array of issues, such as stress, sleep difficulties, esteem issues, anxiety and even depression.
How To Support Your Partner’s Mental Health
It would be helpful to start off by being able to gauge your partner’s stress levels. This would then lead to all the other actions that can be taken. Based on the partner’s needs, it would be nice to have each other’s back by showing support using the five languages of love (i.e., words of affirmation, physical touch, receiving gifts, quality time and acts of service). At the same time, it would be beneficial to have frequent check-ins with your partner and not assuming that everything is alright.
Tips: Being present for your partner is important! If you and your partner have an argument, do try to sort it out before bedtime. Try empathizing, listening and understanding your partner’s point of view. A relationship consists of two unique individuals, where opinions are bound to clash and that is ok. Put it on the table. If you need support, communicate it with your partner.
How To Build Resilience As A Couple
The key factor to building resilience with couples is effective communication. Communication is essential in making a relationship work, be it expressing the needs and wants of one another. It is especially important to be able to communicate freely of the need for support and affection. Couples need to be mindful that individuals within the relationship are different individuals with their unique and individualistic ways of coping. Despite the differences in coping, it would be helpful for couples to support one another mentally and physically. Couples could work together in setting common goals, or even practice gratitude. The quality of teamwork will help to enhance and strengthen the relationship, allowing the couple to grow together.
Not All To Blame
The pandemic may create a lot more difficulties and inconvenience that may not have existed in the past. However, the pandemic may not be the sole cause of such relationship challenges. In fact, the pandemic allows couples to view a more wholistic picture of the relationship, by magnifying into various aspects that may not be visible prior to this. What could couples do? Take ownership and responsibilities in the relationship. Work together in making the relationship work despite all the differences. It is not easy to show vulnerability, but it is also a form of strength. Don’t forget it takes two to clap.
About Ms. Pang Chia Yee
Ms. Pang Chia Yee is a psychology lecturer, researcher and therapist. Her expertise includes gender studies, personal development, sexuality, relationships, mental health, resilience and counselling. She graduated with a Master of Arts (Counselling) from University of Nottingham, United Kingdom and BA (Hons) – majoring in Psychology and minor in Philosophy from University of Prince Edward Island, Canada. She has conducted various workshops, training and talks for corporations, schools and the public. She has more than 10 years of experience in the mental health field.
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