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Relationship Experts Share 6 Ways To Lessen Couple Fights When One Of You Need Space
  • Since the quarantine started months ago, couples have found themselves together 24/7. While the unexpected quality time has been blissful for the most part (moms are happy that dads can help out with the kids and around the house more), fights and arguments are inevitable due to being confined in the home for a long period.

    “It is understandable how the forced constant togetherness could be a big adjustment. As differences start to manifest, you may find your relationship tested,” writes Rica Cruz, a licensed psychologist, sex and relationships therapist, and a sex educator, in an infographic that she created for the Ateneo Bulatao Center for Psychological Services.

    The worries brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic can also put a strain on the relationship. “What we’re seeing is that there’s a clash between the terrible anxiety about catching the virus and having to stay sequestered 24/7,” shares relationship therapist Julie Gottman, in an interview with NPR.

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    How to lessen couple fights during the quarantine

    If you and your hubby find yourselves getting stressed out during the ECQ, don’t take it out on each other. Instead, here are some coping strategies that will help — not hurt — your relationship.  

    Listen and empathize.

    According to Julie, when couples try to deal with stressful situations like the pandemic, they will “often try to solve a problem rather than listening to each other’s emotions.” Her advice: make one person the speaker and the other the listener. The listener should know to “ask questions to deepen their understanding and then to just simply offer empathy.”


    Julie’s husband, John Gottman, a psychologist, relationship expert, and founder of The Gottman Institute, says that the listener can respond with questions. “What is your worst-case scenario, here? What are you really terrified about? Let me know what you’re thinking.” He adds that the simple act of listening and trying to understand can have an enormous impact. During stressful times, being your partner’s ally can sustain your relationship with each other.

    Know when to take a break.

    When arguments get heated, it’s always a good idea to step back and cool your head. “Do something self-soothing that calms you down, that gets you out of fight or flight,” says Julie.

    Rica suggests “scheduling” your fights. “Eventually, when everything’s cool, both of you could arrive faster and more level-headedly at a resolution,” she writes. “Set the time, day, and location where you could sit down and have this discussion.”

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    Respect each other’s personal space.

    Just because you’re staying in the same house doesn’t mean you can’t have personal space. According to Rica, you “can establish boundaries that are acceptable for both of you.” Try having separate workstations and avoid interrupting each other during work hours. It is important to give yourself and your partner physical, mental, and psychological space.

    Be more tolerant.

    When you’re in such close quarters with your partner, you suddenly notice each other’s annoying habits — how she’s always hungry while he’s always on his phone, how he never lifts the toilet seat while she always leaves the lights on — and you tend to fixate on them. During this quarantine period, be more tolerant and understanding. Think of it as silly quirks — laugh about it! — instead of annoying habits. Avoid pointing fingers and highlight what your partner is doing right.

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    Have “me”-time and “we”-time.

    Remember that you are partners, so sit down and discuss how you can divide daily tasks. Rica suggests negotiating time with your partner “when you could be unbothered by anything or anyone in the household, including your kids,” so you can do relaxing or de-stressing activities (maybe watch your favorite K-drama?) and vice-versa.

    At the same time, reserve some time where you can do activities you both enjoy (it doesn’t have to be sex — that can come later). Take advantage of the quarantine and (re)discover shared interests, says Rica.

    Make time for intimacy.

    Yes, it can be difficult especially with the kids always around, but being intimate with your partner can release all the worries, stress, and responsibilities that’s been weighing on your mind. “This may also be an opportunity to get to know what your partner wants and to explore new things together,” writes Rica.

    Is the COVID-19 pandemic making you feel worried? You might have anxiety and not know it. Click here for the signs you should watch out for. 

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