Best Health

COVID COU­PLES THER­APY

- By ALI­CIA COX THOM­SON

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.

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