As a relationship counselor in Sydney I am witnessing firsthand how the ongoing pandemic is affecting our relationships. 

It does come down to resilience. What is resilience and how do we build more resilience in ourselves and in our relationships, you may ask? 

Resilience is our ability to adapt to change and to bounce back when things don’t go as planned. People who are resilient don’t become victims and dwell on failures; they take stock of the situation and move forward. 

According to research by a leading psychologist, Susan Kobasa, there are 3 essential elements to resilience, and they are: 

  • Challenge – people who are resilient view difficult circumstances as a challenge. 
  • Commitment – people who are resilient are committed to their lives and have goals in all aspects, from their work to relationships and more. 
  • Personal control – people who are resilient spend time and energy on things they have control over and where they can have the most impact. 

This is all easy to say but not as easy to do. I have found that with some couples, one of them is busier and their job is making more money than before, and possibly the other half of the couple is struggling with job loss and being placed on  job seeker/ job keeper payments. 

The busy part of the couple is battling to keep up with the workload and the other part is battling with a loss of identity and feeling uncertain about the future. This also leads to an imbalance of power, where the one not able to work feels less worthy and can withdraw not knowing how much to ask for and feeling financially dependent and trapped.

In other scenarios couples have spent much more time together than usual, but not in a good sense. For many young couples with children, there has been balancing each trying to work from home via chat links and often in a small, shared space and at times home schooling as well.    

Now the differences in parenting styles can become more apparent and cause tension. 

Then we have the scenario where one partner used to travel routinely for business, usually the man, and now with Covid there is no travel. So that person is now stuck at home without the break they are used to having away from the family. In some cases, they are working round the clock to accommodate for different time zones without the downtime of travel they are accustomed to. 

The partner left at home to deal with the running of the home and sorting out the children, now is under more scrutiny. Maybe their relationship worked because they had that time apart?  

What is going on in your relationship? How has Covid affected you? 

I have extensive experience in supporting couples through all these challenges and more, so if you’d like to discuss this further, I’d love to hear from you.