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).
Similar to the last consideration, it can seem like you have all the time in the world to talk through things you want to talk through. This is especially the case when you do not know when your situation of being confined will end. What started out as self-isolation can develop into a short term request by the government to stay home can lead to an order not to go out unless you are an essential worker, and this can then be extended for an even more extended period of time. This uncertainty can create the idea that you have lots of time to deal with things with each other. It is true that you have much more time now to be able to address things, but time is still valuable, and you want to ensure that you make this time that you have as quality of time as possible. One danger is that you open up a conversation that is challenging and lengthy, and it becomes like a sinkhole drawing both of you into it. When you get drawn into that conversation, the risk is that you are not spending time on other conversations that could also be important and beneficial to your relationship. When you are dealing with major issues (such as children, future living situations, dealing with parents, thoughts on buying a house), it can be fair to limit the conversation either when you start or by putting it on pause. In fact, sometimes placing a conversation like that on pause helps both of you come back to it fresh, and new ideas will have come up while it was on pause.
In addition to thinking about how you might not get all the way through with challenging conversations, it can also be helpful to limit the amount of time you spend addressing it together at any given time. There are times when starting a conversation when you wake up and having it run throughout the day until you go to sleep can be productive. For example, if you are planning a vacation or working out all the things that need to get done in the next big block of time, then persisting through in a big block may be fruitful. However, in many situations, particularly if the conversation between you is challenging, a large block of time does not facilitate effective communication. Instead, it offers you the chance to repeat parts of the conversation many times or to allow friction to become a larger conflict. When these are the patterns, take a break and agree when you will come back to it (later that day, in a couple of days, whenever you both agree) and then make sure you do come back to it.
In many situations, particularly if the conversation between you is challenging, a large block of time does not facilitate effective communication. Instead, it offers you the chance to repeat parts of the conversation many times or to allow friction to become a larger conflict.This is NOT a Second Honeymoon-- Christopher L. Smith
Additionally, if you know this will be one of these topics, agree ahead of time that you will spend a specific amount of time (such as two hours) talking about it and then come back to it at another time. These challenging topics are often best tackled over several conversations, and that is true even when you think you have all the time you could want. Here's the Book.
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