COVID COUPLES THERAPY
How to talk to your partner about the tough stuff without losing your cool.
Feeling overwhelmed? Identify the issues
There’s so much to choose from on the COVID-19 Sucks bingo card — being stuck in close quarters, changes to finances, increased household anxiety, health fears, lack of child care, no alone time, intimacy issues. There is no right or wrong way to react to an unprecedented event, but it is important to figure out what your issues are and which ones need to be addressed most urgently.
“Sometimes I give the couples I work with a reflecting task,” says Dr. Gina Ko, a PhD doctorate in educational leadership and a Calgary-based registered psychologist. “What are you able to accept? What things are unacceptable?... I also ask couples if they’re open to writing letters to express what is bothering them. They don’t necessarily have to share them, but it can be helpful.” Because there are so many possible stressors, identifying what the issues are, why they are happening and how they make you feel is necessary for the next step: talking about it.
Playing the blame game? Make “I” statements, not “you” statements
Talking about your emotions is a vulnerable act, and people react differently to feeling exposed. It’s easy to blame each other with accusatory language: “You left the dishes on the counter again, and you know that makes me mad! Why do you do that?” But for open communication, both parties need to take responsibility for their actions and feelings. Making “I” and “you” statements facilitates this.