The Coronavirus, or COVID-19, has sparked a variety of emotions in people and in turn a lot of challenges for couples. What do you do if your partner isn’t as concerned about the virus and you are? What if you are scared/nervous about catching COVID-19 and your partner is not taking the proper precautions?
Whether you are stuck quarantined in a New York City apartment or a home in Westchester, you are under the same roof and need to come to some type of agreement.
Be open and honest
Communicating your concerns, your fears, your anxiety is always important but perhaps even more so when it comes to a pandemic. If you are the more cautious partner in the relationship it is likely causing you anxiety whenever your partner leaves the house. You might feel angry, scared because your partner wants to hang out with friends or refuses to wear a mask to the grocery store. You might not want your spouse entering the home after a trip out—putting a lot of strain on your relationship. Be honest with your partner about your concerns.
Defer to the one who is most concerned
You might not agree with your spouse’s concerns about catching the virus. You might think he/she/they is overreacting. And, that’s ok. You are entitled to your own opinion. But for the sake of your relationship, the healthiest choice would be to defer to the more fearful partner. Help create a positive environment for your relationship. If your partner is uncomfortable with having people over, then don’t do it. If your partner doesn’t want you going to the grocery store without a mask, then agree to wear one. You need to be considerate of each other’s concerns. Living with anxiety isn’t easy and your partner needs support.
Use “I hear” and “I feel” statements
In relationship counseling, we often suggest to couples that they use “I hear” and “I feel” statements so they are being clear. It can also help to have your partner repeat back what you just said to them, and vice versa. Take turns when you are having a conversation so that you both are being heard. “I hear you when you say you are scared, but I feel bored and restless and want to get out.” “I hear you when you say you feel like you are suffocating when you wear a mask, but I feel afraid for our family every time you go out without one.”
Compromise isn’t necessarily an option when we are talking about a pandemic but there are still ways to make sure your partner’s needs are being met. If your partner is aching for socialization, is there a way to set up a socially-distanced gathering of some kind? Adults only, six feet or more apart? Or can you set up a virtual party? It is not the same as normal, but it would at least help for the time being. If you don’t like to wear masks, maybe the other partner needs to be the one going to public places. Work together to meet each other’s needs as best you can for the health of your relationship.
These times are unprecedented and challenging but you, as a couple, can learn how to adapt together. If you are having trouble working through these challenging times, consider seeking the help of a couples counselor. Relationship therapy can provide a safe place for discussion, and a counselor can provide healthy suggestions for moving forward.
Relationship Suite: Relationship Therapy Services is made up of a group of skilled therapists with over 20 years of experience specializing in couples counseling. Since Covid, we are providing online therapy in New York City, New York, Long Island, Westchester, and the Hamptons. Click Here to learn more about our Online/Virtual or In-Person Counseling Services: Couples Counseling or Anxiety Counseling.