She Said, He Said: Tips for staying connected during a disconnected time
She Said, He Said
We don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that, for most of us, life today is not the same as it was a few weeks ago. There is, without a doubt, more uncertainty, more stress and more confusion. The recent disruptions have led to greater feelings of anxiety and fear. Whether it’s concern for your health and the health of your loved ones, your financial well-being or even whether you’ll have enough toilet paper to make it through the next few weeks, we’ve all had our normal lives turned upside down and inside out.
Schools are closed, businesses have shut down, events have been canceled, and even the freedom to hug your friends and family has been discouraged. If you feel less patient, more snappy or more reactive, you’re probably like the rest of us who aren’t operating as our best selves.
With all of the upheavals we’re experiencing, we encourage you to try the following:
Take some deep breaths and pause before you engage with others. Please try to be mindful to not take out your fears and worries on your loved ones, especially your partner. You will need to be a team to get through this with the most grace and resilience.
Be open about what you’re experiencing. Check in with your partner, family or closest friends every few days to let them know how you’re really feeling — vulnerable, scared, worried — as your transparency will encourage them to be more open, too. Taking a few minutes to connect to, name and share your feelings brings them to the surface and lets you actually manage and cope with them.
If your loved one’s behavior is negatively affecting you, let them know with compassion and understanding. Start out by saying “my story is …” or “my perception is …” rather than blaming, and stay curious about what might be going on for them.
Practice asking each other “What do you need?” every day.
Remember that social distancing is a terrible name. We’re not supposed to cut off our connections with each other, but rather create more physical space between us. Be creative in how you stay socially and emotionally nurtured during this time. And if you know anyone who might be more alone as a result of the current situation, reach out by phone, email or video — they may really need to hear from you.
Difficult times such as these tend to divide: Some are at odds politically, some say we are overreacting to the situation, others say we aren’t taking it seriously enough. We each have to do our part to not let stress and worry turn us against each other, and this starts within our own homes.
Ultimately, we need to remember to be kind and to love one another, even if it’s from 6 feet away.
Lori and Jeff are married, licensed psychotherapists and couple-to-couple coaches at Aspen Relationship Institute. Submit your relationship questions to info@AspenRelationshipCoaching.com and your query may be selected for a future column.