Three ways to support relationships
through the ongoing COVID experience
Our New Zealand team of five million seems mostly to have been able to navigate the COVID experience with a kiwi can-do attitude. We initially managed the short term uncertainty by moving into crisis-mode, and pulling together in our individual, family and relationship teams. However it is not possible to maintain a crisis-mode level of functioning over time. As the length of time that we experience COVID uncertainty increases, we need new strategies to support us in keeping ourselves healthy and happy as individuals, and also in nurturing our relationships.
Here are three ways to support our relationships through the ongoing COVID experience.
1. Talk about the uncertainty
When discussing the current situation with family or friends, talk about the uncertainty. Remember that when there is uncertainty, people can feel confused and disoriented.
- Take one day at a time.
- Continue to make do-able plans AND add contingency options.
- Find ways to make education work.
- If intercity or overseas travel was a way of connecting with family and friends, be creative in finding other ways to connect.
- Talk about how it can be easy to blame others for the way we are feeling as we grieve for what was once normal for us.
2. Explore perspectives together
In uncertain situations we may have different perspectives around what is going on, and how to manage. This is normal. Family members and partners can have a more connecting experience when they agree to listen to and respect each other’s perspectives. Listening in this way can create safe spaces in relationships for people to share their concerns, feelings and needs. It can be helpful to say “It’s ok if we don’t all see things the same way right now”.
This safe sharing helps people to:
- process their experiences,
- feel connected, and
- develop flexibility and resilience.
3. Find Meaning
Finding meaning through uncertain times can help us develop the resilience we need to flourish. Victor Frankl believed that “The meaning of life is to give life meaning.” (Burton, 2012). During this COVID experience there are many ways we can act to give ourselves and others a sense of meaning and purpose. Being intentional about how we spend time together as a couple or family is a way of using this COVID experience as an opportunity to strengthen our relationships.