Marriage Counseling and the Pandemic
It’s no secret that since the outbreak of the pandemic marriage stress has risen and sometimes pushed to the breaking point. Being forced to be closed in your home for extended periods of time with your spouse during the virus can be a significant challenge. Even the best marriages can be a challenge when a couple’s normal routine is radically changed.
Developing a healthy routine in your marriage now will help see both of you through the virus and beyond when life goes back to a new normal.
I often use the Gottman method for couples counseling in my practice. The Gottman method is particularly well suited to help couples navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic and the stress it can create in marriages.
How to Strengthen your Marriage
Here are seven suggestions for strengthening your marriage during these difficult times as we face the uncertainties of the virus.
- Build Love Maps: This refers to an ongoing awareness of your spouse’s world as they move through time: how they think and feel, what day-to-day life is like for them, and their values, hopes, aspirations, and stresses.
- Express Fondness & Admiration: Marriages that function well are able to appreciate and enjoy most aspects of their spouse’s behaviors and learn to live with differences.
- Turn Toward One Another: Communication patterns of interest and respect, even about mundane topics are crucial to happiness. Maintaining interest in what your spouse is communicating with you helps develop trust in your marriage. That you would take the time to show interest in your spouse and their communication to you helps grow the “Emotional Bank Account”, of your marriage. Marriages that are highly successful keep healthy communication in conflict discussions, even Turning Towards one another while arguing.
- Accept Influence: Marriages that take the other spouse’s preferences into account and are willing to compromise and adapt are happiest. Being able to yield and maintain mutual influence, while avoiding power struggles, helps couples keep a balance of power that feels reasonable and builds trust.
- Solve Problems That Are Solvable: Couples who can find compromise on issues are using five tactics. They soften start up so the beginning of the conversation leads to a satisfactory end. They offer and respond to repair attempts, or behaviors that maintain the emotional connection and emphasize “we/us” over individual needs. They effectively soothe themselves and their spouse. They use compromise and negotiation skills. They are tolerant of one another’s vulnerabilities and ineffective conversational habits, keeping the focus on shared concern for the well-being of the marriage.
- Manage Conflict and Overcome Gridlock: The Gottman Method helps couples manage, not resolve, conflict. Conflict is viewed as inherent in relationship and doesn’t go away. Happy couples report the majority of their conflicts, 69% are perpetual in nature, meaning they are present throughout the course of time and are dealt with only as needed. These recurrent themes become part of the couple’s shared landscape and are kept in perspective, not dwelt upon.
- Create Shared Meaning: Connection in a marriage occurs as each person experiences the multitude of ways in which their spouse enriches their life with a shared history and helps them find meaning and make sense of struggles.
If you are struggling with your marriage we would love to help apply some of these suggestions. Please feel free to contact me at, https://familyccc.com or (602) 325-1233 if you would like help as a couple or as an individual for the issues you are dealing with.