Sunday, June 13, 2021

How to prepare your relationship for the post-pandemic life

Do you remember how strange it was to be home alone with your other important person 24/7 after the coronavirus first appeared? Or how uncomfortable was it to meet a new romantic partner with a mask in that felt like a vacuum?

More than a year into the pandemic, many couples have finally found their footing. But do not get too comfortable – everything is going to change. Again.

Vaccinations are becoming more available, restrictions are being lifted or revisited, and people are becoming more comfortable with the idea of ​​getting out of their cocoons. Many couples will adapt more.

“Most couples I see are looking forward to the post-pandemic period,” said Kimberly Panganiban, a marriage and family therapist in San Diego. ‘Some of these couples believe I will be able to navigate well this time because they talk openly about it and the changes that may come. Others are not aware of how it can affect them because the excitement of other things is focused. ”

How can you prepare your partnership for the post-pandemic period?

“The conversation and negotiation about navigating a post-pandemic world is critical for couples and should take place as soon as possible,” said Jess Carbino, an online computer scientist with a doctorate in sociology. She is also a former sociologist for the dating apps Tinder and Bumble.

“If couples are unable to discuss and prepare for the challenges they may face, it can lead to an increased degree of conflict,” Dr Carbino said. [Sign up for Love Letter and always get the latest in Modern Love, weddings, and relationships in the news by email.]

Experts suggest prioritizing communication during this transition period. “Make time and space for ongoing discussions about each other’s feelings and needs as our lives change again,” she said. Panganiban said. ‘We will all experience a variety of emotions. Supporting each other during this time is crucial to the health of the relationship. ”

First, acknowledge the problems that may arise. There can be conflicting comfort levels when it comes to health risks, opposing views on the vaccine, different vaccination statuses and separation anxiety.

Sharon Gilchrest O’Neill, a marriage and family therapist based in Ridgefield, Conn., And author of ‘A Short Guide to a Happy Marriage’ and ‘A Short Guide to a Happy Divorce’, suggests writing down concerns together , without trying to sort out any differences now. Visit these lists together in a few weeks and add or refine them if necessary. “Start in a ‘next’ discussion about the differences and how to meet each other’s needs,” she said.

There are some changes that are likely to affect all couples. “For many people, it will be very challenging to spend from a lot of time together to much less time together,” she said. Panganiban said. ‘Creating rituals that will help keep partners connected, even when they are not so much together, can help. And planning continuous time with each other can facilitate this transition. ”

Nick Bognar, a marriage and family therapist in Pasadena, California, agrees. “I suspect couples will have to adjust to not seeing each other all the time and being apart for large parts of the day,” he said. “After a year of sharing space with someone, even if they are wearing headphones or working in different rooms, people are probably pretty used to feeling close to each other all the time.” Mr. Bognar suggested “connecting and connecting more frequently” as a solution.

Me. Panganiban currently sees many couples in which one partner is happy with the couple cocoon while the other one is ready to emerge. “If one person wants to leave sooner, it is important that they take turns sharing how they feel and what they need,” she said. “Make sure both are fully heard and understood before discussing what you really need to do about it.”

For couples in this space, Ms Gilchrest suggests that they keep their partner’s needs in mind and reflect on how they can reaffirm the importance of the relationship and that they are a team at home again and in the larger, new world. ”

Dr. Carbino is concerned about couples in which one partner is more or less isolated than the other. “When individuals return to the workforce, couples need to be mindful of whether one partner should return to the workforce faster than the other and the associated isolation they may feel,” she said.

Isolation can also be caused by each other’s social circles; the friends or family of one partner may be ready to visit while the other is not. “If one member of a couple finds themselves more isolated than the other, Dr. Carbino said,” they need to work together to find safe ways for the more isolated partner to get along. “

One issue that has plagued couples throughout the quarantine is opposing views on Covid safety. “We all have our own feelings and comfort regarding the security in the pandemic – these issues will arise,” she said. Panganiban said. “Being honest with themselves and their partner about how they feel is important. If they do not agree, it takes the best time to hear and understand each other. ”

Dr Carbino said: “Couples are not necessarily in line with the risks they are willing to take in public. One partner may feel less comfortable hanging out with individuals who have not been vaccinated.”

To help resolve disagreements, couples should ‘communicate openly about why they are concerned about a certain activity and why a certain activity is important to them’, said Dr. Carbino said. “This dialogue will ideally promote a better understanding and in turn lead to a healthy degree of compromise.”

Dr. Carbino suggests that long-term couples living together ” should have a discussion ” about the elements of the pre-pandemic and pandemic life that they would like to include in their post-pandemic lives. ‘

Couples who met during quarantine should prepare for another discovery phase. “They only know each other through the pandemic lens,” she said. Panganiban said. ‘It will be important to enter this period knowing that, as the world reopens, they will learn new things from each other – things they enjoy and things that are challenges. It is important to make sure that the lines of communication are open during this time. ”

Dr Carbino calls on newer couples to have a conversation about how their lives are structured before the pandemic and how they want to structure their lives. “Maybe it was early retirees who went to the gym before going to the office, working 12 hours a day at the office and then going to work with colleagues after work,” she said. “This routine-related information would be revealed relatively quickly organically in a prepandemic world, but perhaps it was not during quarantine, while many of these activities and social interactions were not possible.”

No matter what the current status of your relationship is – new, old, struggling, progressive – you will be tested again if you are out of quarantine. If the pandemic period was a burden for your partnership, suggest me. Panganiban forward: ‘to continue to deal with the challenges in the relationship as best you can while you wait until things start to move.’ This is a good time, she said, to discuss some of the hurts that have occurred during this period and discuss how you want things to look forward. ‘

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