The pandemic brought relationships under the magnifying glass, and for some couples, the cracks started to show. Their relationship is not what they thought it was, or what they wanted it to be.
Too much together time during lockdowns disrupted a necessary balance. Reduced shared time with other people and access to recreational activities created more opportunity for conflict. The nature of work changed for some – working from home, change in hours, job loss, retirement – impacting family finances and acting as an additional stressor in the relationship. Changes in family roles regarding childcare or homeschooling proved difficult to navigate.
Healthy relationships can be nurtured. Putting in the time and effort can help them thrive.
A sound relationship is based on trust and commitment. It is grounded in friendship, respect, and admiration. It is about truly knowing your partner (not just who they were when you first met, but as they changed and grew through your time together), having a positive outlook, managing conflict, having shared goals, and working together to make them a reality.
In a healthy relationship, there is no control or power over a partner in any way, whether it is physical, emotional, sexual, financial, or social. There is a balance of needs and partners are receptive to the other’s needs.
This does not mean that healthy relationships have no conflict. Rather, in a good relationship, partners work together and communicate well to resolve issues.
Healthy relationships demand that the individuals themselves are whole – emotionally and psychologically. As a first step to a better relationship, commit to self-care and access mental health supports if needed. These supports do not have to always be accessed jointly with your partner.
Infidelity should stop immediately. Know that broken promises and half-promises destroy trust. Commit to following through, every time.
Commit to a date night with your partner. We often put the time in at work, sports, exercise, and hobbies to reap the rewards but do not think of doing this automatically with our partners. Having a date night prioritizes time for the couple. They are designed not just for fun, but also to learn about one another again, and to start talking and sharing again.
Also commit to a family meeting on the weekend (older children can be included). This meeting involves the practical disclosure of the things that will happen in the next week. By discussing upcoming events, duties, and responsibilities, we diminish the points of potential conflict.
Finally, do not wait until a crisis to seek help. Meeting with a professional for a check-in about your relationship and to get input from an unbiased source can be helpful. Whether as an individual or as a couple, seeking therapy can increase emotional intelligence and improve communication skills.
When we rebuild the foundation to a good relationship, we unlock the potential for great happiness.