By Montrella Cowan, MSW, LICSW
If you were one of millions who thought, “This is my year” coming into 2020, you’ve probably been cursing this year for a while. Many of our most sought-after resolutions like earning that promotion, traveling abroad, and dropping a few pounds all gave way to our “new normal” thanks to Covid-19. These days, those of us fortunate enough not to be catastrophically impacted by the disease are simply happy to have our health and maintain our incomes – and perhaps, that’s how it should be? Either way, ambition has given way to survival in 2020.
Just as many states have moved into reopening, our country faces as many unknowns as knowns. The untimely combination of civil unrest and Covid-19 has brought America to a boil, just in time for back-to-school season, a presidential election and the holidays.
Can Relationships Thrive During Turbulent Times? When chaos surrounds us, how do we fare in our relationships?
According to a recent Forbes study, a majority of couples reported that quarantine life was largely positive. Surprised?
Extra time at home presents unique challenges, but the additional time also provids a rare opportunity to strengthen and repair our most important relationships.
The combination of mental exhaustion and the uncertainty of post-pandemic life may make it tempting to sit as a bump on the log in front of a fall fireplace. But as much as you’re dreaming of reading a good book and drinking a pumpkin spice latte, a key priority must be keeping your relationship fresh this fall.
But like everything else in 2020, getting there won’t be easy sailing.
As a relationship expert and licensed psychotherapist, I want to share my tips to make this fall as much a season of success as you want it to be.
This Isn’t the Time to Coast
Always remember that good relationships take work. Now is a great time to take inventory of your feelings. How would you grade your emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health? Once you’ve measured your state, it’s time to check-in with your partner and ask them to do the same.
Once you’ve identified your current state, I recommend following these Three R’s to maximize your momentum and give your relationship its best chance to thrive.
The Three R’s:
● Rest: Burnout is normal, especially in times of high stress. According to Forbes, 71% of couples are feeling anxiety right now stemming from stress, overwhelm and uncertainty. Remember to nurture your mind, body and spirit.
● Reflect: Take this time to reflect on what matters most to you and level set your priorities with your family — especially your partner.
● Reaffirm: Remember to validate yourself and reaffirm your commitment to self-love, growth and nurturing. A relationship is only as strong as its weakest link, so care for yourself first.
It’s Time to Put in the Work
Sheltering in place left many couples feeling more isolated than ever. Isolation can cause increased feelings of depression and anxiety, and that’s why it’s especially important to continue to replenish each other’s cups as we emerge from isolation and get back to life.
Keep your romance alive and focus on being spontaneous!
Surprise your partner with a romantic and private picnic in the park. Let your hair down and bring out that sexy, stylish outfit. And although you may be itching to get back out there, remember that a creative spin on an in-home date night could lead to the perfect opportunity for some much-needed intimacy with minimal distractions.
Whether you’re lighting candles, challenging each other to a board game or taking a love language quiz, remind each other that you are not alone, that you’re in this together, and that through it all, your love will win.
Families That Pray Together, Stay Together
Faith supports love.
And it’s in these unprecedented times that our faith is truly tested. In any relationship, faith acts as the root of our connection—not only with God but also with ourselves, partner, family, and friends.
This is an ideal time to water the seeds of your faith with your partner and children. When you deliberately and routinely nurture your faith, your relationships tend to grow in perfect harmony.
For you, nurturing your faith may mean continuing your spiritual studies privately, turning to a virtual religious service for a sense of community, or simply looking inward and discussing your faith with your loved ones at home.
Whichever path you choose, walk hand-in-hand with your spiritual self and spread love as much as possible. The world can use more love and light right now.
Is Now the Time To Seek Professional Help?
During the most trying of times, underlying issues tend to boil to the surface. We’re seeing it today with protests in America, and you may be seeing it within your relationship right now.
As a psychotherapist and international best-selling author specializing in relationships and personal trauma, I help those who are suffering face their trauma and guide them on a path to healing and fulfilling relationships.
Ultimately, the decision to seek help is a deeply personal one and one that only you can make for yourself. Just remember that many of the greatest movements in history were built out of adversity and isolation. And while you may not feel like MLK did as he marched through Selma, carrying the burden of discontentment, depression or anxiety is sure to reach a breaking point if not addressed.
When you decide that speaking to a therapist is the next step in your journey, schedule a complimentary consultation or virtual therapy session with a trained professional.
Everything great starts with a decision, and the only time we have is here in this moment. You, and only you, can create the relationship you’ve always wanted.
Despite all that’s going on around us, today offers another opportunity to take the next step towards the future you deserve.
Grab your FREE GIFT from Montrella: 10 COMMANDMENTS FOR LESS STRESS here.
Montrella Cowan, MSW, LICSW
Licensed Therapist & Relationship Expert of Affinity Health Affairs
Author of the international bestseller, The Purse: An Essential Guide to Healthy Relationships