Written by: Courtney Kershaw.
It’s no secret that in times of stress we turn those closest to us for comfort. What is perhaps different these days is how close those people are. With social distancing and stay-at-home regulations, we are in uncharted territory when it comes to connecting. Some people that we used to spend the majority of our days with can only be accessed through a screen, and some people we only used to see right as we woke up or right before bed are now in the next room 24/7 (or the same room–shout out to all my people sharing a studio apartment).
Our whole known world of resources is a bit off balance right now. So how do find comfort when we may only have physical access to one person, and that one person chews REALLY loudly, and you now eat every meal together? Knowing you love your partner and knowing how to ask for what you need from your partner are not the same thing. So, let’s take a look at some common things that might get in the way when you need some extra support.
You Are Not a Mind Reader, and Neither are They
An easy trap we can all fall into is expecting our partner to know what we need without actually telling them. Or the even more frustrating trap that WE don’t know what we need, but gosh wouldn’t it be nice if they could just figure it out? Wanting to feel understood by your partner is normal and it can be stressful when that seems like a moving target.
So when you find yourself aggravated that the fourth time you loud-sighed because your partner is talking too loud on their conference call and you can’t concentrate on finishing the project that you’re managing with five other people on a shared document…slow down. Pay attention to what is coming up for you. Are you stressed? Probably. Is it something that your partner can help you with by changing something small? Maybe. So how do you want to ask for it? (Because let’s face it, they aren’t catching on to the sighs).
Getting clear about what is happening for you helps you be clear with your partner about what you need. Who knows, maybe you’ll find a quick fix that works for both of you, or maybe you’ll have to trial and error a few things until you find a fit. Either way, at least now you both know what you’re trying to do together.
Should I Stay or Should I Go? Asking for Space
Asking for space can be tricky. If you’ve slowed down and taken the time to figure out what is coming up for you and what you need from your partner–and that answer is some alone time–how do you ask for it without hurting their feelings?
- Identify the need. Do you need alone time for 20 minutes or an hour? Do you need to watch a TV show alone and zone out?
- Talk about what it will do for you. Let your partner know this is to help you recharge. Ideally taking space will put you in a better place to be around your partner again.
- How do you want to come back together afterward? Talking about how you want to reconnect after some alone time can help reaffirm that being with your person feels good too.
Be Kind to Yourself and Each Other
This is a tricky time. It’s going to feel stressful when you try something and it doesn’t go well, and that’s okay. The goal is to keep working on it together to find what fits.
We could all use extra support right now, so let’s take some time and try something new. And remember, the process of being patient with ourselves and our partners can be a connective experience all by itself.
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