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Marriage therapist has advice for managing pandemic pressure

Tips on managing anxiety as US adjusts to new normal
Posted at 3:24 PM, Jun 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-23 21:52:19-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — Pandemic related anxiety and changes in schedule are putting pressure on many people’s relationships.

It is leading to more visits at 'He Said She Said Couples Counseling.'

“I’ve already had to hire two more clinicians,” said Marriage and Family Therapist Tarah Kerwin. “We are having 30-40 phone calls a week.”

Kerwin says when someone is anxious it can be harder for them be attentive to their partner.

“They are not being heard; they are being very reactive to each other.”

Kerwin has some relationship advice for managing the pressure. Acknowledge which one of you might be more upset in the moment and ask how you can support the other person. Also, have a codeword for when you are too stressed out.

“That means I cannot be my best self right now. This conversation will go nowhere good. I want to come back to it, but right now I need to take a time out.”

Kerwin says couples working from home can also run into issues.

“A lot of partners would get frustrated because they are trying to do home office work but then one partner is like can you do this with the kids or help with breakfast. So, we had them set up systems.”

She says to check in with each other in the mornings and schedule your workday with some breaks for family time.

It is also good to have a routine at the end of the day for switching from work-mode to being more present at home and in your relationship.

“If you are really frustrated with your partner that means you love them a lot and care about them deeply, because otherwise you would be more ambivalent.”

Kerwin says any transition or change can put pressure on a couple. Learning to lean on each other now can help your relationship rebound stronger than ever.