LITTLE FALLS, NJ – Clinical psychologist Meryl Dorf returns to TAPintoTV to discuss how couples can handle the challenges of living and working together during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With many working remotely at home, couples are forced to be together in confined spaces for long periods of time. Many are also grappling with anxieties about the pandemic and the uncertainty this time brings. Also, one or both partners may be struggling with the loss of a job. Financial concerns are “a big stressor,” Dorf said. “It can cause a lot of problems in relationships.”
Dorf said one of the challenges of maintaining a long-term relationship is keeping a balance between competitive needs for security, support and reliability on the one hand, and adventure, mystery and surprise on the other. At this time of being together 24 hours, 7 days a week, it is difficult to achieve spontaneity when they see each other all day, every day. Couples should try to “create and maintain some kind of space” whenever possible, Dorf said.
Partner conflicts do occur, and during this time, it is likely to be inevitable. Dorf recommended that we take this opportunity to learn to be better communicators. There are likely to be complaints, but how they both file and receive a complaint is key. When you criticize someone personally, a defensive attitude is activated, Dorf said. “If you focus on someone’s behavior, that’s something you can talk about and someone can hear,” he said.
Conversely, Dorf said, if your partner files a complaint with you, try not to be resilient, but don’t be too quick to fix it, either. Instead, just listen. Try to really understand, “he said,” what is my partner really trying to tell me?
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. If you need emotional support, you can contact New Jersey Mental Health Cares at www.njmentalhealthcares.org to speak to someone right away or get a referral to a mental health professional.
For more information on Meryl Dorf and her practice, visit her website at www.meryldorfphd.com.