If you have experienced sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800 RESPECT for confidential information, counselling and support service.
After consecutive weeks of staying at home, Coronavirus is taking an undeniable toll on relationships and mental health. We have observed a significant increase in uptake in mental health digital services across Australia.
With many cases of job loss causing financial stress combined with the need to isolate indoors, it is important to monitor the effects this can have on your relationship. In a time of uncertainty and confusion, anxiety about the future may linger. It is normal to feel worried about your loved ones. It is OK to stress about your reduced household income. It is natural to feel overwhelmed by mainstream media’s coverage of the pandemic.
All these have the effect of putting your general stress at a heightened state.
Recommended for you: Ways to cope with increased stress and anxiety amid Coronavirus
For many, this additional stress may be taken out on your partner, or vice versa (without you even being aware of it). Being in the same house as a partner for longer hours during this time can additionally elevate your relationship stresses that were pre-existing, such as frequent arguments, financial burden or a lack of physical intimacy.
Additionally, you may even find new relationship strains that you were previously not aware of. Where at least one of you left home to go to work, as a result of social distancing measures, you are experiencing a significant increased amount of face-to-face contact with your partner. This can happen especially if you are both working from home or have been furloughed.
How can you get assistance in order to cope with your relationship stresses effectively?
Ideally, talking to a mental health professional about your emotions and relationship stresses will be best (either alone or with your partner present). The following article is to help you identify signs of relationship stress to confirm your concerns and find ways to tackle these issues with the current restrictions.
Signs Of Relationship Stress
If you and your partner are constantly in each other’s faces during this isolation period without your normal routines to break up the interactions, it is more likely that you will start to pick fights even when the issue is minimal. You may feel agitated by external stressors and take out this stress on a partner, or they may take it out on you. This may be in the form of complaining about chores, responsibilities with children or household items, as well as bringing up old fights that you have previously solved. The blame game can become constant.
It may even be novel things that trigger your fight, such as a towel left on the floor or loud chewing, but because of your confinement indoors, every emotion can become heightened. Without your normal avenues to release stress such as being able to go to the gym or think about work, your mind may focus on the annoyances of your partner that usually you could look past.
Top tips include using the ability to exercise as a way to release stress. It may be a walk around the block, or yoga in your backyard in order to remove yourself physically from your partner. Another tip is to ensure you have separate workrooms so that you avoid distractions and create barriers, or even complete time-passing activities such as painting or puzzles away from each other in order to get your alone time back. If the fights are always about extra chores now that you are home more often, a physical schedule or assigned chore list can be handy in keeping you both organised.
Take deep breaths before you start a fight and ask yourself if it is worth it, or if there is another way to solve the problem calmly.
Lack Of Intimacy
If your lack of intimacy is still apparent despite being closer together this could be a sign of relationship stress. Perhaps the worries about coronavirus and work are tiring you or your partner out, or you just do not feel comfortable being intimate anymore. If you are feeling distant from your partner, communication is necessary. Tell your partner how you are feeling and find ways to make an effort for each other. This may be a date night, cooking together or taking time out of your day to complete a couple activity, like a movie night, puzzles or exercising together. If you or your partner have trouble expressing your feelings in the relationship or have not had intimacy for ongoing periods of time, it may be a sign to seek professional guidance.
If Coronavirus is forcing you to be physically distant from your partner, such as avoiding hand-holding and touching for an extended amount of time, this is another issue. This may be because one partner is immuno-compromised, or you live separately. To tackle this, communication without physical touch is necessary, which may include practicing patience with your partner. Try to do at home dates with some physical distance or video call dates in order to keep some aspect of your relationship romantic.
Different Goals In Life
Even without Coronavirus present, partners can experience a change in life ambitions that causes relationship stress. The way this can be elevated during Coronavirus is if a partner has lost their job or is unable to work on their goals from home. Change can be forced upon the couple, and priorities may have to change. This may not mean that goals have been given up on, but rather their ability to be achieved in this time has been hindered. This can cause stress when partners are invested in the other partner’s goals.
The increased time together may offer an opportunity to talk about the uncertainties in the future. Fights can occur because of this, such as hesitancy to have another child, wanting to move or an inability to be promoted in the workplace. Job loss due to Coronavirus may also give the individual the opportunity to assess what career they really want, which may be a change that a partner who was invested in their previous career goal finds hard to accept. Partners may also feel unmotivated, or have low self-esteem if their job is lost due to Coronavirus, which is only elevated by financial stress. This stress may be passed on through unnecessary fights or result in a lack of communication.
What Can New Vision Psychology Do For You?
If you are experiencing relationship stress, having a professional psychologist as a neutral facilitator can help get your relationship back on track (or at least reopen closed and/or damaged channels of communication between you and your significant other).
If you are unable to leave the house due to health reasons, a relationships psychologist can be available to you by remote communication.
Through tackling issues such as intimacy, self esteem and disagreements, New Vision Psychology can work with you to create healthy communication styles, goal setting and bring back intimacy. We know it can be hard to convince your partner to participate in couples therapy, so be assured that you can speak alone to a psychologist, or work on issues separately to your partner.
Find out more about our marriage counselling services here (fees, session duration, FAQs, relationship counselling vs couples therapy). Alternatively, our experienced psychologists can assist you with individual counselling matters.