Is a post Lockdown “Relationship Reckoning” coming?

I’ve been reading and hearing a lot about how many couples are struggling in their relationships during lockdown.

As I mentioned in my last blog, we aren’t meant to exist like this; it’s a highly unusual situation for us to be so isolated, with only our partner and children for company.

And ultimately this puts pressure on us. And when we feel under pressure, this often comes out in different ways. Grumpiness, sadness, anxiety, worry, anger, guilt. We all experience uncertainty in different ways, and it can be confusing to ourselves and our partners not to be able to make sense of it all.

On the other hand, maybe we have found some positives in lockdown. We are rushing around less. We are spending more time as a family. Exhausted parents previously commuting or dashing to work in the morning and dashing back after dark are seeing more of their children. We are spending less money. We are appreciating fresh air and nature when we can get the opportunity to be outdoors.

It feels like things are going to change again over the next month too, with the reopening of shops, schools, and other previously closed businesses and organisations. For some this will be welcome relief and the much needed change to a stale routine. Small business owners can start to have a glimmer of hope for their businesses.

But for others these new changes present a new set of problems. We are made to feel more responsible for the risks that we take. There are no 100% clear rules anymore. We have looked to the government or authorities to answer our questions and have sometimes found these lacking clarity or certainty.

And when it comes to our relationships, we can also feel that lack of certainty. Are we ok? How can we support each other with this? What do we now need from each other? Can we readjust back to our old, pre lockdown roles? Do we want to stick with some of the new dynamic that we’ve had in lockdown? What do we want from each other now? Are we happy?

Relate has called this a “post lockdown reckoning” where all the issues and worries about our relationship come exploding out once lockdown is lifted. According to their survey, 1 in 8 couples is currently having doubts about their relationship, but many are having to suck these doubts up and not give them space to be thought about or explored. However once life returns to normal, we might then feel ready to really look at whether we are happy with that version of normal, and whether we actually want something better, different, or more satisfying.

And I guess that’s where us Relationship Therapists come in. Expecting couples to self assess and do their own “Relationship MOT” is a bit like reading a book about engineering and trying to fix your own car. Of course, some people will have success with self help, and minor issues can be resolved fairly easily, with great, long lasting results. But for other couples, where longer lasting problems are now starting to raise their ugly heads, now is a great time to see some professional support and start to look under the hood of your relationship with the support of good therapy. And, sticking with the automobile metaphor, investigating and exploring issues earlier tends to help avoid future breakdowns and emergency repairs.

So if you feel your “Relationship Reckoning” is coming, please know I am here for you. I am seeing clients online via Zoom for the foreseeable future until safe enough to resume face to face sessions. Let’s work through this together.

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