The first week of Quarantine is over. You’ve probably appreciated more quality time with your family. You might also notice that extra time can also create more conflict and stress if you and your partner aren’t on the same page. Discussing expectations for who is responsible for what, and when is crucial in a time period like this. Couples are being placed in entirely new scenarios, where they have to figure out childcare, financial plans, and monitor everyone’s needs. These fast-paced, heavy-weighted decisions that are falling on people’s laps are very stress-inducing. This can lead to conversations that start normally but head south in a hurry.
When people are operating with elevated stress levels, cortisol floods your body and can trigger you into fight, flight, or freeze mode. When triggered, this survival response focuses your brain on obtaining safety. Flight, fight, or freeze mode can look different in every person. Some people like to storm out of arguments and escape, some will not drop the conversation until there’s a final solution, and others completely shut down. All of these options make sense to certain people because it is their way of obtaining safety. It’s important that you and your partner know your argument styles so that they can be easier to spot when the time comes.
When a person is triggered, it is NOT helpful to continue that conversation. Until that person takes a break and calms down, they won’t be able to hear the other person or be able to make reasonable decisions. When triggered, your brain is not able to comprehend all the information that is getting thrown at it. The average person needs about a 30-minute break. If you and your partner can adopt breaks during stressful conversations, you’ll spend less time arguing and more time-solving problems. Here are some other tips you and your partner can utilize to set yourselves up for success.
The impact of entering a conversation softly, taking a break when needed, and checking in with each other on a regular basis can go a long way towards increasing trust and effective communication. Sometimes it can be helpful to be reminded that you are not alone in experiencing added stress during the course of recent events. Assume that your partner is trying their best every day and tackle obstacles together instead of by yourselves. We are still open in person and through telehealth. Don’t hesitate to reach out if we can help!