It has been a difficult year for many couples.
On the one hand, some couples have enjoyed having more time together, rediscovering each other, and finding harmony and strong love. On the other hand, there are couples who have broken out: the little things have become unbearable and not having an escape from being together has become too much. Even couples who really love each other have come under pressure and have suffered.
Couples living abroad have extra stress: being abroad. Away from the family who you may not have been able to see for a long time. Care for the family, parents, grandparents, and elderly uncles who would be in great danger if infected. Working at home forcing you to isolate even from those social contacts at work that often represent the largest portion of our social network abroad. And many other small forms of limitation.
It is not strange that two people under so much stress unload their nerves on each other. A shame though that an external situation that has nothing to do with the couple has such a negative effect on your relationship.
But what to do now?
I have received emails from people who decided to divorce during the lockdown and my first thought was: who knows how they will look at this situation a year from now. What I mean is that important decisions like ending a relationship are best made after the storm of emotions, when you are able to consider the situation calmly and feel grounded, with the focus on what you desire instead of focusing on what you don't wants more.
I wondered how I could contribute through a blog to the healing of couples who have suffered from great stress in this difficult year and who have decided to look at their relationship once again to heal it.
An important reflection when you are in a suffering couple is to take a step back and look at what is happening between you and the other but from a different perspective. I would like to suggest a specific perspective that is rarely visited spontaneously by couples in crisis, but which has been scientifically proven, can make all the difference.
I'm talking about the perspective of emotions and vulnerability.
How do you do that?
I will try to explain this using an example. Imagine a couple where one is always angry because the other doesn't say or do certain things. On the one hand, there is an angry partner and on the other hand, there is a passive partner. The one that is more withdrawn continues to activate the anger in the other, the other with his anger continues to activate the passivity in the one.
If we look at this situation from the perspective that I define as emotions and vulnerability, we could see something completely different in the same people. I'm drawing here a possible scenario.
On the one hand, there is a partner who is afraid because she/he no longer feels a secure emotional bond with his/her partner and feel disempowered and not able to do anything but protest by getting angry. Somehow the anger is to protect oneself and not to feel fear and that sense of helplessness. On the other hand, there is a partner who feels judged and this activates all the vulnerability of not feeling that he/she is enough and the way she/he defends himself from this deep pain is to close himself off in passivity, withdrawal, and silence.
You can probably imagine that seen from this different perspective; the same situation becomes somewhat different. By attributing different meanings to your partner's actions and words, your reaction to the other, and the way you communicate also are likely to change. What used to make you angry now may lead you to openly communicate your needs for an emotional connection with a calm, vulnerable, and emotionally connected attitude.
Getting angry or withdraw is not necessary anymore because if you feel safe you don't need to cover up how you really feel and what you really need from your partner.
How can you apply this change of perspective and communication to your relationship?
1-Start with yourself, take a step back, and feel what is moving inside you, what are the emotions below the surface, the pain that you have not yet confessed to anyone.
2- Paying attention to your pain is already an effective way to heal that pain. Accepting that you have that pain and that that is your starting point, even if it hurts and even if you don't like it, is also a way of heal yourself.
3- Once this is done, you can look at your partner from the perspective of emotions and vulnerability. What can you do to create a climate of emotional security where you and your partner can feel safe in an open and honest conversation where emotions and vulnerability are honored?
If you wish to investigate your specific situation in a private interview with me, do not hesitate to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org