Author: Marion Hall, BSW, RSW
Social Worker (SW) North of 60 Military Family Resource Centre (MFRC)
Military Family Services (Yellowknife)
Canadian Forces Morale & Welfare Services
At the best of times maintaining a relationship is difficult due to internal and external stressors. Couples are now facing a global event that has placed unprecedented pressure on everyday life that has to be endured. Many are facing the new challenges of working from home, home schooling and being full time parents as child care is no longer available due to health imposed. restrictions. Balancing these challenges and meeting expectations of our families and partners can be overwhelming. Some couples may experience an increased level of discord while others
may experience a renewed sense of commitment and rise to the challenge.
Couples may be spending more time together as there are fewer activities to be running to in the evenings and on the weekends, which can contribute to a feeling of cabin fever, but can also present an opportunity to gain new knowledge and skills. It can also be a time to reconnect and revisit relationship goals.
Along the way there may be a stumble or two as couples learn to adapt to a new way of “doing business as usual” but there are steps that can be taken to ensure the health of their relationship and its preservation.
1. Engage in Self-Care- To be able to care for others we need to care for ourselves first. Practicing self-care allows us to maintain optimal physical and mental health so that we are in a good place to care for our relationships with our partners.
2. If Working from Home Divide into Work Spaces-It is important to have your own designated work space in the house to carry on working and to respect your partner’s work space.
3. Engage in Individual Activities-Respect time for activities as a family and couple such as car rides, board games or watching family movies but recognize interests differ and individuals need time to explore and practice their own hobbies and interests. We all need some alone time to decompress even if it is just reading a book on the other side of the room.
4. Keep Lines of Communication Open-Living through a pandemic is a new experience for everyone and there is no well of previous experiences to draw from so talk to your partner about how you are feeling or what you need during this time. Do not assume they know what you are thinking because this experience is also new to them.
5. Plan a Special Event/Date Night- Plan a special activity, does not have to be elaborate but is enjoyed by both partners. It can be cooking a meal, watching a virtual tour of a museum or learning a new hobby or shared interest together. Set a date and time, protect it from intrusion, and enjoy making a memory.
6. Be Thankful-When practicing gratitude during this time take a moment to acknowledge and express appreciation to your partner. Verbalizing how much you appreciate who they are and what they do for you and the family may just be what they need to hear to strengthen your relationship and be uplifting during this time of uncertainty.
7. Humour- Its ok to laugh during difficult times, I highly encourage it! Find the opportunities to laugh and see the humour in everyday life, how we are surviving this pandemic. Sources can easily be found within our homes, on the internet and certainly within our relationships.
There is no recipe for a perfect relationship, there will be highs and there will be times when the feelings are low. If the health of a relationship is made a priority and both partners work at maintaining it, they will enjoy a stable union and have enhanced their skills to meet the challenges of the pandemic of 2020 together.