This is a message to all of the couples who have had to put your couples counselling sessions on hold or delay starting your sessions due to impacts of the COVID-19 virus. As we are now limited to phone or video (telehealth) sessions, I can appreciate how attending a session for you and your partner may be difficult for couples therapy. There is a different dynamic in the room in couples therapy that is sometimes missing when not being together in person. We work hard to make the most of the tools we have to work with, but adapting to the format or making it work can be challenging. You may have children home with you and finding privacy for 1-2 hours without interruption just may not be possible. I get it.
Consider that this COVID-19 situation could be a positive to your relationship. It could cause you to lean on each other. You may have less work stress. This time we have the time to focus on family, health and safety could be exactly what has been needed to help you resolve the pressures you have been facing.
However, it is also possible that the lack of professional guidance and help for your relationship could make this a difficult time. Your relationship may not be in a safe place to really express your fears and concerns and this situation just adds more feelings of being alone. If that is the case for you, I am truly sorry. I am writing this to encourage you to do what you need to do for yourself and the relationship.
You are not alone.
One thing that I say to couples who are going through infidelity issues is to follow rule #1: Don’t make things worse; let’s have a plan to follow that allows no more damage to take place between sessions. This approach could be helpful for times like these. Give lots of grace to each other and have a plan that you both can follow to keep your relationship from getting worse. I understand that this may sound funny or negative. However, for many couples there are unsafe topics that, when brought up in unstructured ways, can be detrimental and lead to deepening conflict. It’s ok, and even healthy, to save these topics for the next time you have a session.
As always, taking care of yourself is a cornerstone of any healthy relationship. Building individual self-care times of the day or of the week into your calendar is a great way to stay in a healthy frame of mind. And, it gives you both things to look forward to!
Please know that we are available for virtual sessions. Even if we aren’t going deep into troubling issues because of potential interruptions or lack of privacy in your environment, working through basic communication tools and check-in’s are helpful.
If your relationship is in a safe place and your couples counselling has been working, you can continue growing in your relationship by reading a couples book together. My favourite is Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson.
There are lots of great blogs and online resources to help us process the uncertainty and anxiety that people are facing during this time. These can be helpful for us as individuals. However, I personally work with a lot of couples and I don’t want you to feel there is no guidance for your relationship during this time. Follow the good individual advice and also take some of these thoughts into consideration. Potentially your couples therapist will be able to give you some good homework to do during this time, as well.
We are certainly charting new waters at this time. I hope you are all doing all that you can to stay safe and healthy and are taking time to be more loving to each other during these days.
We are in this together.