Living confined is already quite a tough ordeal in itself. But when it comes to share a more or less limited space with your other half, it can be complicate more. Will your couple survive the ordeal of confinement? It all depends on your starting point. If you were already used to living together in complete serenity, you will not be faced with the same difficulties as a couple who just broke up but who must share the same apartment, as a couple who don’t get along, that a couple unfaithful, that an emerging couple who must bear the distance, or a new couple just moved in together.
Several other factors will weigh on the balance: the presence of children, a possible health problem, teleworking, unemployment, outside work, the blended family, the in-laws who share the same roof … as much to say that there are multiple sources of conflict.
“The difficulties are exactly the same as without confinement, but in the current situation, the imbalance which creates tensions is likely to worsen”, summarizes Virginie Clarenc, sex therapist and couple therapist.
The marital stress, a struggle for power, complicated communication, burden sharing, lack of perspective and space, sexual and emotional pressure, the feeling of loneliness or abandonment … this unpredictable and extraordinary situation makes us lose all our bearings. The good news is that there are ways to work and rediscover each other together.
Verbalize your emotions
For the psychoanalyst Sylvie Chauvin, everything is played out at the level of the verbalization of tensions. “Even the most innocuous feelings have to be expressed to avoid accumulating. When verbalization is no longer possible, go through writing to take the time to think about your “ailments”. And if a discussion turns in circles, you have to know how to stop it, take a break every man for himself, then resume it later. ”
The golden rules during confinement: find compromises and take time for yourself. “The individual creates the couple. If the individual is bad, the couple is bad too. It’s not selfishness but common sense”, she insists.
Remember the start of her love story
Virginie Clarenc offers a series of exercises to make the most of the time available during quarantine. The first is to smemory of the beginning of his love story. Ask yourself the question: “What did I like about her when I first met her?” Each partner can relate to the other his exact memory and the way he fell in love, with his different details and his personal side of the story.
Second exercise: resuscitate individual and common projects. As a couple, we don’t always have the same needs at the same time. It is therefore the ideal period to redefine your personal projects, and try to write down your goals on paper, in all areas. Think about the dreams you want to make to come true, from the smallest to the largest, then do the same for the couple.
A game to alternate power
The third exercise is very useful in case of constant worries and arguments on everyday subjects. It’s about power alternation game. Each partner chooses even or odd days. In case of disagreement, this is the person who holds “the power” on that given day who will have the last wordThe goals: to let go, to stop the struggle for power, to learn from the other, to put oneself in his place, and finally find peace.
The keys to communication
Other tips from Virginie Clarenc can help you get out of certain dead ends.
- try speak in the first person. Everyone is responsible for their emotions and needs. To speak for the other is to interpret.
- Search the unmet need behind a negative emotion. Anger, for example, can arise from needing help. Once you have identified it, express only this need, even if it seems obvious to you.
- Assume that the other is in good faith, respect him, take his differences into account, and don’t think he necessarily feels the same way you do.
- If you have children, plan everything. Screen time, household chores, undisturbed moments (for everyone), working time, etc.
- Learn to apologize when you’re wrong… and sometimes even when you’re right. This reflex can defuse an explosive situation, de-dramatize it, and postpone it to a more favorable moment.
- Learn to forgive. Sulking in a corner for whole days is unlivable during confinement. Everyone manages stress in their own way, and sometimes you need space to calm down and isolate yourself. Once this break time is over, it is useless to prolong it.
- Enjoy and abuse humor to bring back a good mood at home, it’s vital!
- Respect private moments, the consent, and remember that this situation is unusualandtemporary.
- Finally, if the situation becomes too complicated to manage, do not hesitate to get help by a teleconsultation therapist. If you are already in therapy, try not to interrupt it for your own well-being and that of your home.
All these advices are not to be taken into account in case of domestic violence. Women victims of this type of violence can contact 3919. Free and anonymous, this number is accessible 7 days a week (9 am to 10 pm Monday to Friday and 9 am to 6 pm Saturdays, Sundays and holidays).