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Welcome to our new world and lifestyle of living with restrictions due to COVID-19

I am sure you are finding your personal and work life has changed considerably. I must admit and share that it is a lifestyle I am not enjoying for many reasons – I’m an extrovert, I love people and relationships, I love coffee catch-ups, dinner parties, boot camp and fitness, book club, dining out and travel.

Life has changed. I am missing my face-to-face sessions and workshops, and for the first time in my career of 24 years, I’m now working from home to plan how to work without my clients in the room. We are currently caring for our elderly parents and we miss our boys who are separated from us, and due to the health crisis, our bubble has shrunk considerably.

Recently I reflected on how I was managing and how we were going. My relationship with my husband is based on my work, we use all possible relationship research day in-day out (we try to talk the talk and walk the walk), so I thought about what were we using and relying on most to stay connected with each other especially since we are living in each other’s pockets. Here are my top three and one that I need to work on:

  1. Appreciation: We are really trying to appreciate and thank each other verbally for the little things we notice. It’s easy to get frustrated and highlight what we are doing wrong when we are stressed (Gottman’s level 2 Sound Relationship House [SRH] – Fondness and Appreciation);
  2. Be Grateful: When I get anxious or overwhelmed by negativity and media hype, I write a list of all the things we have and are grateful for and re-read it or read it to each other (Gottman Level 4 SRH – Positive Perspective). We recall all the great times we have had in our relationship and what we are looking forward to post the restrictions;
  3.  Repair and Dialogue: We use more use of Repair & Dialogue (explaining our position – Gottman Level 5 SRH), so you hear a lot more of “I’m so sorry”, “I didn’t mean to say it like that”, or “that came out all wrong way”; and
  4. Subjective Reality: There are also many things I could be doing better, so I need to improve on thinking that my opinion or position is “subjective”  (Gottman’s SRH Level 5 – Subjective Reality). I’m not great at this at present as I’m out of my comfort zone and anxious about where this will end up.

If you are interested in sharing:

  • What are you currently doing or using in your relationships that you present or share with your clients in session? and;
  • What is something you present to your clients, that you are not currently doing yourself, that you could work on?

Take care and be safe, and be kind to those closest to you.

Robyn Donnelly
Coordinator – Marriage and Relationship Education CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning
MAREAA Membership Coordinator, NSW State Representative

Read on for various resources to assist you at this time. Finally, please let us know how you plan to deliver your services in these challenging times. 

For more information on the virus and the steps that can be taken to minimise its impact, visit the Australian Government Department of Health website.

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the video for couples on YouTube:

Tune in next week for more discussion about relationships and mental health. 

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