Signs of spring are all around us and change is certainly in the air. Spring has always symbolized newness and rebirth and I can’t think of a year where that is more apparent (and more welcome) then Spring of 2021.
As we emerge from what some may argue is one of the longest winters in memory we head towards some semblance of normalcy. The new normal, as many are calling it, is approaching. Last week, Daniel Dashnaw walked us through some critical ways to navigate the transition. Havi Kligfeld offered some special advice for couples that are navigating affair recovery.
While lockdown measures and close quarters may have created a strain for some couples and an endless supply of bad news, others may have found a bit more time to slow down and connect. As vaccines are distributed and restrictions are lifted we are starting to piece together what this new normal might look like.
Are you and your partner looking towards the future with hope? Are the children returning to school, sports, art classes, violin lessons, etc? Or are you bracing for a return to busyness, long commutes, and that long forgotten professional wardrobe? Perhaps, for you, not much changed during the pandemic yet there is still a current of change around us all.
I asked the rest of our team; what should couples keep in mind as they navigate towards the “new normal?”
Catherine Pfuntner; make sure you are on the same page.
Have intentional conversations about how each sees "returning to normal." Often we can easily forget our perspective may not be the other's. The way one partner stays safe and expects to return to normal may not be the same as the others. A helpful way of approaching this process collaboratively may be, "I'm seeing the process like this and this is why. How do you see this?" Some folks may be surprised they overlap or agree more than they expect, and if you do catch there is a difference in perspective, it's a good time to start thinking about the compromise.
Debbie Woodall Carroll; ease into it.
I think we need to be aware that when things open up and start to get back to normal, there is going to be a need for some transition time. All of us, couples and individuals, have been in "survivor mode" just trying to get through the day. Some of us barely have time to think about how all of this has impacted us. As some of the stressors ease, we may notice a lot of feelings coming up about what has happened. Oftentimes when we slow down, our emotions "catch up to us." This is when people may really start to feel the extent of the pandemic. They may notice more anger, frustration, irritability. This is when we are really going to need those self-care techniques and give ourselves time to start the grief process of what was lost over the last year.
Dr. Doug Burford; schedule with intention.
Remember to connect. Couples need a balance of time together and time apart. COVID has changed that balance. Some couples will have experienced that change positively; for others it will have been a negative experience. In either case, couples need to connect—to give the relationship the nourishment it needs to stay healthy. As things return to normal, this is a good time to negotiate what that ideal would look like...to reserve specific evenings for dates; to make plans to meet for lunch or go to breakfast together; to decide what we're going to replace screen-time with as we cut back on it; to plan some monthly or quarterly special get-aways, and some special trips that have no been advisable during COVID. This is a good time to ask, "What do we wish we could be doing?" Before busyness overtakes those things we value, build them into the schedule.
Have intentional conversations around these issues at times that work for both of you. The measures that were put into place just over a year ago hit us by surprise; the recovery is one transition that we can try to prepare for.
As you map out what the new normal means for the two of you also consider:
Despite your best laid plans this next transition will still require flexibility from you and your partner. If your relationship is not in a healthy place, we can help.Finding the right couples therapist means working with someone that knows what makes relationships tick and won’t waste your time on anything but the best relationship support. Schedule a no-obligation appointment and we’ll help you find an available weekend in your area.