The COVID-19 pandemic and its resultant fallouts — economic hardships, lack of childcare, loneliness, political uncertainty, environmental concerns, just to name a few — have been stressful for everyone.
And marriage during the pandemic can be more difficult, too. However, don’t forget that your partner can also be one of your most important supporters in times of chaos. And learning to support one another and face your fears together can actually strengthen your relationship in the long term.
To help couples learn to face these very understandable fears together, here are some tips for understanding and empathizing with one another’s fears.
Validate and Mutually Empathize with One Another’s Fears
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of us in different ways. And you might find that your own fears differ from those of your partner.
When listening to your partner’s fears, it might be tempting to minimize them, explaining why it’s improbable that they’ll come to fruition. Even when this is done with the intention of comforting your partner, it could come across as invalidating or unempathetic.
Conversely, you could find that your partner is attempting to explain away your fears. Which can make you feel like you’re not being heard when trying to articulate your own anxiety surrounding the pandemic.
Try to hear one another’s fears neutrally. Focus on what your partner is feeling rather than whether a specific fear is, in your opinion, valid. That’s not your call. Your role is to try to understand and show care for what they’re feeling — not decide whether or not they should be feeling it.
If you’re familiar with Intentional Dialogue as taught by Tim and Norene, this is a great tool to use for this process.
When Partners Listen and Empathize, Fears Seem More Surmountable
It’s amazing how much it can help when it feels like your spouse cares about and understands what you’re going through. Marriage during the pandemic is tough in a thousand different ways, but when you face individual fears together, that burden is lifted significantly.
Because you know that someone is going to be there by your side to help hold you up. Because knowing someone needs you can be a driving force to keep going. Because, quite simply, there’s strength in numbers.
Something important to mention: while the pandemic has been taxing on everyone’s mental health, for some it is particularly trying. If you or your partner believe you may be suffering from depression or another serious mental health issue, even the most caring spouse may not be enough.
Do not hesitate to seek out professional help — even emergency help — if things become too overwhelming. And if you find that your relationship is in trouble, remember that this is a separate entity that should be addressed by a couples coach or therapist.
Because facing fear together can take all different kinds of forms.
If you’re struggling to understand and empathize with your partner’s fears or suffering other relationship difficulties, reach out to Norene and Tim at Rock Solid Relationship Solutions for personalized help during the trying times we’re all facing.