Relationships, COVID-19 and Sheltering In Place
Experts in the field stick by their best practices (see brief article). Namely, slowing down and taking deep breaths, keeping the heart rate low in order to take turns speaking or listening. Avoidance of a potential fight can often ensure the fight occurs, so remaining calm and sharing hopes for what might result from a conversation – or set thereof – can clarify as much as contextualize a given topic. This helps everyone better understand a speaker’s intent and clarifies what the speaker hopes the listener will actually hear. Such conclusions can result in immediate positive changes, if only to feel understood, not so alone, once more on the same team, and together in order to get through this unprecedented milieu.
For one patient the discussion opened like this: “Hey, I’ve been thinking a lot about the stress we’ve been experiencing and hope you and I will feel better if we discuss what is going on right now. I know I may be moody the last few days and wanted to say thanks for being so kind about that; my apologies if my moods have made it additionally difficult. Maybe if we talk over the dinner I am making later, we’ll figure out ways to make this period easier.”
The individual beginning that dialogue knew it may be hard for the listener to open up too. They reassured the listener that it was okay to say nothing at all or reply with a simple thank you for making amends for recent moods – without expecting anything else from their housemate. It just so happens that dinner was delicious and the two people determined new ways to provide space for each other. This enables a bit more empathy regarding moods and kept lines of communication open if or when shifts or swings in tone and behavior occurred. Neither person felt they needed to “walk on eggshells” to avoid a blowup. They replaced avoidance and discomfort with brief interactions in which connectivity won out over silence, miscommunication, and ruptures in their relationship.
I hope these concepts may support ideas to make this time even just a little easier. If you have a question or concern, send an email or give me a call anytime.