Pauline Peters, RP (Qualifying) #9412 is a Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying) at MyLife Counselling in Guelph. She works with couples and individuals 18yrs and up through anxiety, depression, and relationship issues. Learn more about Pauline here.

Post-Pandemic Relationship Repair

Now that we are moving towards the recovery side of the pandemic, psychological pandemic impacts affecting all facets of life are coming to light. The statistics are staggering.

The Lancet Medical Journal published a study on the global prevalence of increased depression and anxiety disorders in 204 countries and territories in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic. Women and younger people were more impacted as compared to men and older adults. ()

There is also the pandemic fallout experienced in love and marriage relationships. A national study by Finder, regarding couples based on age and area, concluded that,

“Twenty-five percent of Canadians aged 18-24 have experienced a pandemic split, the most of any age group. Seventeen percent of Canadians aged 35-44 are splitting at slightly more than the national average of 14 percent. Breakups among British Columbia couples are the third highest in the country at 17 percent with Nova Scotia ahead at 21 percent and Quebec taking the top spot with 23 percent. Nearly a quarter (21 percent) of 35-44-year-old Canadians say that COVID-19 has hurt their relationship.”

The pandemic presented many couples with challenges that were unprecedented. The questions may be posed, “Why the increase in relationship breakdown? What caused it?” A few suggested answers from various sources offer that: couples suffered job losses that created financial stress and uncertainty; remote schooling for children presented parents with additional stress and time management problems; increased alcohol consumption rates by partners contributed to conflict; the transition of working from home rather than workplace commuting forced couples to share spaces for exaggerated amounts of time, leaving little time for individual autonomy; and already existing issues within the relationship became exacerbated by social restrictions and other pandemic-related issues.

While some relationships during the pandemic have been negatively impacted or even dissolved, for others, opportunity has been afforded to repair, heal and grow. Couples have been forced to “think outside the box” and be creative with staying connected to maintain and build flourishing, healthy relationships.

The pandemic has caused some couples to reflect on what is truly important regarding future hopes and dreams, as well as appreciating the “here and now.” Many couples have appreciated the “slowing down” of life brought about by the pandemic and have come to appreciate the time permitted to be together. There has also been the “appreciation of the mundane, stopping to smell the roses, and taking joy in the little things” that the pre-Covid busyness of life did not permit.

As an experienced couples therapist, in moving to Post-Covid life, I would encourage those in love, committed, and married relationships to consider four recommendations:

  1. Acknowledge and grieve the losses experienced during the pandemic
    This may require compassion and gentleness towards oneself and each other. Mourn with each other, support each other and give space to “listen and be heard” of how the pandemic may have aggravated or caused relationship losses.
  2. Appreciate the “small things”
    Enjoy the holding of hands. Sit and drink the coffee together. Take an evening stroll with the dogs. Go to the newly released comedy movie and laugh together. Engaging in the “small” allows for the building of memories and intentional connection, and provides relationship maintenance.
  3. Associate with other couples
    Build your networks of couple supports that can provide social interaction, entertainment and like-minded thinking.
  4. Consider professional support if you and your partner have been experiencing relationship stress
    Don’t ignore the signs that the relationship may be in trouble or needing outside guidance. According to The Gottman Institute, the average couple waits six years before seeking professional help for marital problems. Don’t wait until the relationship is near break-down or already broken. Be proactive in repairing and rebuilding.

Truthfully, relationship repair and recovery are hard work but, by the same token, it can be very rewarding and satisfying when both parties are invested and committed. Your relationship, with such efforts, can potentially be a beautiful thing… not perfect… but two imperfect people striving for better for each other.

Pauline Peters, RP (Qualifying) #9412 is a Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying) at MyLife Counselling in Guelph. She works with couples and individuals 18yrs and up through anxiety, depression, and relationship issues. Learn more about Pauline here.

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