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Love in the Time of Corona

Problems with your partner? Remember, you are in this together.
By Dr. Ken Fung


Since the beginning of 2020, Hong Kong’s population has been coping with the threat of the Covid-19 virus. In the face of this outbreak, many people have taken steps to self-isolate, protecting themselves and their fellow community members from transmission. It is the right thing to do, but it does not come without its own set of difficulties.

Spending all day together in the same small space, both for work and leisure, can cause friction between couples. Without the usual time apart and with the stress of outbreak pressing in from all four walls, it is easy to understand how tempers can flare and fierce quarrels can erupt.

Problems Will Not Go Away

The situation can be even more volatile for couples who have relationships that are unstable or troubled. Ineffective communication strategies, poorly aligned values, or existing dysfunctional patterns of behaviour will not magically go away when couples must stay home together for extended periods. The relationship will face even greater challenges, and both people may become physically and mentally exhausted.

In this very unique time, we can choose to focus on things that we and our partners can control and manage. We can rise to the challenge and to build deeper relationships on the way.

You are a Team

Remember, in these tense times, that you are a team. Choose to be honest and let your other half understand the difficulties or emotions you face. Make the mental note to interpret “me” as “we”, and you will become more abundant in mental and physical resources.

Even if your partner does not provide you with an effective solution for every problem your face, you will feel less alone. It is very important to remember that just because you encounter a problem and that you both cannot find a solution for the moment, it does not mean that you no longer love and cherish each other.

Release Pent Up Feelings

After nine months of social instability in Hong Kong, beginning with the protests and containing under the current outbreak conditions, some people may be feeling especially negative. Small things can suddenly escalate into big things and both parties might use very hurtful words. One way to exorcise these pent up feelings is talk about them with your partner. An important tip is that you only talk about things outside your relationship, and let your other partner become the harbouring station for your emotions.

Relax Together

As the epidemic continues, we continue to be separated from many of our coping mechanisms. Choose to do relaxation activities as a couple at home. These may include indoor sports or exercises, creative pursuits such as art and music, gardening, watching movies and so on. Find a way cope together. Remember that your other half is an important companion to relax you.

Don’t Worry About Silence

Some couples have never had to cope with sudden changes, or major shifts. They may not have the experience or resources to face the stresses brought on by the need to work from home, home-school children, and self-isolate. For those couples have have not had the opportunity to develop resilience, it can be easy to slide into silence and negativity.

Especially when one partner becomes silent or sinks into despair, it is easy for the other to interpret this behaviour incorrectly. They might believe that their partner is indifferent, or has fallen out of love. In reality, some people simply need space and time to work through what is happening, and digest the accompanying emotions. Do not take this as a reason to become anxious and potentially start a heated inquisition.

Rather, stay curious, avoid making quick conclusions, and find a chance to let the other person know that you have seen their recent changes. Remember not to frame these observations as problems, or to assign blame. Communicate that you care about your partner, and want to offer support.

When your partner understands that he or she can rely on you, they may share their feelings and thoughts – a valuable opportunity for communication.  If you can seize the opportunity, it is more likely to even enrich and improve your relationship in a magical way.

Is there friction in your marriage or relationship? Do you need help finding strategies help you and your partner weather the current unusual conditions? Contact the BFDC, we can help.