The Coronavirus has been an unprecedented pandemic in so many ways including how we deal with all this new tension.
There are layers to the Coronavirus stress. Some people are stressed out because they’re out of a job and don’t know where their next meal will come from, meanwhile others have to go in to work and expose themselves to a virus we’re still understanding. There are others who are worried about elderly parents, grandparents, friends who are immunocompromised, themselves; it’s understandably a tense time.
But there’s extra tension if you don’t feel like you’re in a safe and ideal situation. Like, what if you’re taking this pandemic seriously but your partner or roommate isn’t? How do you navigate that? How do you navigate ANY of this? The New York Post got some insight from speaking to Melissa Thoen, a couple’s therapist and clinical director of Ackerman Institute For The Family.
You’re gonna get on each other’s nerves, let’s get that out there
That’s a fact of life. And on top of that, you’re engaging a lot less with the rest of the world, your routine (as much as you love to hate it) has been rudely disrupted (how dare she), and the weight of the world is on everyone’s shoulders, so yeah, we’re all a bit on edge.
Be more empathetic and compassionate at this time for everyone. Yes, even yourself. Like, even if the girl you’re talking to seems to snap at you more often than usual maybe she’s feeling some of that stress. Talk to her about it and approach it from a compassionate point of view.
What if you’re more cautious while your partner is more of a risk-taker?
This dynamic isn’t unique at all actually. Thoen thinks this is common across the country and the best way to mitigate this is by communicating even more frequently.
“Especially when panic is evolving, you need to take a step back and make sure both people are being heard,” says Thoen. “One strategy is to explain to your partner your concerns or worries, then have them reiterate what you said.”
Another big tip is using “I feel” and “I hear” statements. If your partner’s behavior makes you uneasy, Thoen suggests saying, “You going to the park gives me anxiety and makes me worry about you and what could happen to our family.”
But…what if it’s trickier than that? And they’re your roommate(s).
You can’t really influence what your roommate does and doesn’t do, nor should you expect to. What you should do if you’re concerned about the behavior of your roommate is have a house meeting!
This gives the opportunity for everyone to be informed with updates on the virus and the protocol around it (it’s possible they weren’t informed) and to find compromise on how to behave during this pandemic so that the entire house feels safe.
“Hearing each other is the best way to argue,” says Thoen. “Make sure you’re understanding and hearing what they’re saying, and try to empathize.”
Most importantly, she says that now is not the time for conflict avoidance. If something is bothering you, speak up right away. Which, honestly, isn’t a bad way to live the rest of your life.
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H/T New York Post