This article is extracted from “This is NOT a Second Honeymoon: Helping Couples Survive Spending A Lot of Time Together”, a book that was written by Christopher L. Smith to help couples during the COVID-19 pandemic. In his clinical work, he realized that couples being quarantined together have particular challenges. The book goes into a lot of these challenges along with strategies to survive these types of times and even to have their relationship thrive. We will be sharing a series of these extracts over several weeks to help you. If you would like to look at all of them together and get the book right away, it can be found on Amazon (Book).
It is possible that one or both of you are working outside of the home still. On the surface, this may seem that it would help alleviate some of the problems about which we have talked. However, you could still experience many of the things that we have spoken about because your lives will still be disrupted. While you will be apart while you are working, you will still be spending a lot of time together that you would not have spent together, and you will also have lost some of your outside interests that helped make life feel more balanced.
It is possible that things will actually seem worse because by going through everything that you do to go to work, the partner(s) who are working away from the home may need activities to wind down and decompress. During normal times, this might have worked well by having a pleasant (or even not so pleasant) commute home or by doing something with friends before coming home or any of a number of other activities. When these are taken away, you may experience a different side of your partner, and this can add to the tension that you are experiencing. At first, it can be hard to identify what the problem is, as it is most likely that something is missing. In fact, that missing component may not even seem that significant when you first consider it. Regardless, the better you are able to identify these particular stressors, the better chance you have to work out ways to accommodate each other in what is your temporary normal.
Another aspect that can make things worse might be the risks associated with working outside the home. The reason someone is working outside the home could well mean that they are being placed at risk at work, and even if not, then there is still the risk of what could be being brought back into the home from outside. Not being fully quarantined can lead to additional stress based on fears of what could happen to you as well as fears of how this could affect others in the household. These dynamics can cause increased stress for both you and your partner. What initially might seem like a good thing, a relief, a way to contribute and feel valuable, can breed negative consequences and increase tension within the relationship and household. Here's the Book.
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