Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
Before the entire world shifted its attention on the COVID - 19 outbreak, toxic relationships, and how to overcome their grip, were the themes being discussed. With many of us now being confined with spouses, significant others, or other family members, it may be timely to revisit this subject. And for those of you who presently may not be in serious relationships, there's pertinent information for you as well.
Only a miniscule percentage of the global population can say they haven't been affected by the current crisis. Strangely, most fit in to one of two scenarios: either you're experiencing inordinate amount of time at home, or you've been working extremely harder than you'd ever believed you could. Both can take a toll on any relationship.
My heart certainly goes out to everyone working on the front lines who've been giving both literally and figuratively "their all" to defeat this menace. Their dedication and devotion to this cause is perhaps far nobler than some of the legendary ancient Roman and Greek heroes. It is nearly impossible to imagine from where they find the strength to continue to function on such little sleep and proper nutrition. The last thing they should have to worry about is how it's also going to affect their personal relationships.
If you are currently the other half in a relationship like this, it's also time for you to shine brighter than ever. As your partner risks and puts their life on the line daily, consider your efforts to be on a larger, more macro scale. Any sacrifice you make will initiate a ripple effect with everyone your significant other is impacting - including their families.
Remind yourself to be patient. Even when your partner is uncharacteristically short with you, they may simply be venting, and being their momentary "therapist" - showing them patience and love - is what they need to know and feel from you in return.
These are trying times and it will take tremendous effort on everyone's part. There are uncertainties which many have never considered. Consequently, we are facing many emotions we've previously not experienced. All this adds to anxiety and makes us more prone to saying things and acting in ways we would have never dreamed.
Always remember, even though you may not be pleased with your actions, do not compound your difficulties by getting down on yourself. There's no reason to augment this unfamiliar behavior with additional shame. I cannot stress this concept enough. The downward spiral of self-condemnation will cause more damage than the inexplicable behaviors could ever manifest.
For those of you who have been spending much more time with your partner or spouse than you have since... well since you first started dating... your struggle can seem just as ominous. Although you may not be dealing with the stress of work, there may be an overwhelming urge to take a break from everyone or even seek a little privacy. Add to that the addition of children or other family members and it's a recipe for an emotional explosion.
Just like those on the frontlines, your situation also is manifesting unusual feelings and causing you to question yourself. This as well can increase doubt and fear which is never a catalyst for building strong relationships. By being aware of this one concept, it will allow you the presence of mind to be more acceptable and tolerant to those close to you.
Use this current situation to get a better understanding of your partner and even your family. Spend time asking questions and perhaps reacquainting yourselves. Make this an occasion for greater intimacy, and not in the physical sense. Intimacy, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is "something of a personal or private nature." It's about getting a greater understanding of others and that comes most easily by conversation. Ask questions from simple to complex. You may have forgotten what their favorite color or food was. Venture into philosophical discussions and approach it with an open mind. Done in the right way, it can positively change your relationships in ways you could've never imagined.
This situation is unparalleled. It stands to reason moods, thoughts, and actions, which we've never undergone, would raise huge red flags during these exceptional times. There was no warning; no emphasis on signing up for courses teaching us how to deal with these unpredictable circumstances. All of us are trying to cope with not only the current situation but what will be our everyday lives once it has calmed down.
We all are facing this challenge both individually and collectively. The best way to progress is to ask yourself what you personally can do to manage and help. What in your own life can be improved and how can you be an example for others. This kind of thinking is not typical for human behavior. It takes awareness, vigilance, and persistence. It requires a determination which you may have never previously considered. But why shouldn't unprecedented times also demand and create unprecedented courage, fortitude and integrity?
It is quite normal for some to be overwhelmed, especially for those who were struggling prior to the whole pandemic. If you or someone you know are facing this kind of challenge, please muster up the courage to ask for help. There are plenty of online groups set up to provide emotional and physical support. Seek out help in the community. Please don't allow the feelings of shame to overwhelm and stop you from requesting it. As we all move forward with a common purpose to overcome this pandemic, there will be plenty of chances to pay it forward once it has passed.
My thanks to Markus Spiske on Unsplash for the beautiful picture and I look forward to your comments.