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Relationships in the Year of the Virus

Phil and Maude in masksMost of us are in a stay-at-home mode of enforced social survival behavior. Through this global phenomenon we all have an opportunity to find out many things about ourselves, our relationships and our interconnectedness.

We, Phil and Maude, have heard numerous stories of one member of a couple turning on the other and expressing anger, frustration and even rage. Your partner is the person with whom you can share your feelings, more than with anyone else. But when you’re excessively afraid, your fears can be a heavy burden to lay on them.

This moment in time is a chance for each of us individually to make that most important of all life’s decisions: will I act and react from fear or from love? This choice is at the crux of all we do, and this moment offers us a unique and precious opportunity to realign with love.

Let’s first look at our immediate relationships, those we are ‘staying-at-home’ with, in many cases. Nerves can become frayed from being in a small space, or by one person’s constant need for attention or reassurance. This can be turned around, must be turned around, for the health and well-being of all concerned. We will only get through this together.

The escape from this is self-awareness. Be aware of your fears. Name them. This doesn’t include trying to fix them; just be open to them. That’s a big step to managing them. And notice that they don’t exist in the present; they lie in the future, so after looking at them, live in the present, not the future.

Secondly, when you express them, think about the effect on your partner. How are they supposed to respond? What do you want from them? Are you seeking comfort or solutions? Do you expect the same emotions reflected back? Be aware of the impact on them. That’s a big ask. Have compassion for them and tell them you don’t need anything in return.

This is a perfect time to practice acceptance, the kind of total acceptance of each other that by its very nature creates the space (not on a physical plane perhaps) that each of us needs. This is also a perfect time to learn more about ourselves, and by becoming more aware of our potential fear and even impatience, to find ways to redirect this energy and instead of putting out blame and guilt on others, become a center of love and acceptance.

As we are physically isolating, we are becoming more and more aware of how important we are to each other. We are finding new ways to connect and support each other. All praise the internet! Besides bad news, it brings games, movies, cat pictures and best of all, connections with our friends. People are calling in to check on elders and see if they are safe or in need of anything. Groups, friends and family are meeting online through social media, Skype, Zoom, etc. High school students are volunteering to supply food and medicine to elders. The list goes on and on.

The sense and the understanding that we are all in this together, along with a greater realization of how interconnected we are across the world, is dawning more and more on each of us. We are coming to see that when we act, we act not just for ourselves but for others. We take precautions not to get or spread the virus, and come to realize that staying safe means protecting others. If I get infected and go out, I am endangering you, just as if you go out without precautions you are endangering us all. Being safe includes being sure that others are safe!

In the midst of all this uncertainty, one thing stands out –  how much we need and support each other. We are finally coming to realize and appreciate all those who perform the truly vital services that we all count on, now more than ever. We, Phil and Maude, are so grateful for the efforts of all the essential workers, not only doctors and nurses but the people who collect our garbage, pick our crops, deliver our mail and parcels, stock shelves, drop off food, run warehouses and more. They are our heroes and heroines.

So if the world seems turned upside down, just enjoy the new view and know that we are all freshly aware that we are all in this together. Instead of feeling fearful, we can experience love, we can learn and change, we can remember what is truly important and go forward together.

Photo credit: Phil Mayes

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Read Our Latest Interview

Newspaper interviewWe were delighted at how well Marilyn McMahon was able to capture our ideas in her Santa Barbara News-Press interview with us. She asked about our book "How Two: Have a Successful Relationship" and mentioned that it is available for curbside pickup at our local bookstore, Chaucers, even in these dire days. Click on the picture to read the interview. 

Successful Relationship Reading Corner

BookshelfThis week, in our blog, we wrote about relationships in the year of the virus. Here are some articles with suggestions on how to deal with the stay-at-home orders and your relationships.

More conflict but more sex: Relationship advice for couples living together amid coronavirus "Many people are staying home to curb the spread of coronavirus. We’re working, exercising, educating little ones, and caring for our partners and other family members – all under one roof. This increased personal time can be stressful. How do you manage that, especially when you’re listening to dire news?"

Coronavirus: How To Ensure Your Relationships Survive Self-Isolation "Lots of people are now working from home full-time or looking after their children due to school closures - meaning we are all spending more time behind closed doors - but how will this impact our relationships?"

Quarantine can test any relationship. A couples therapist explains how to cope. "How are we going to make it through this coronavirus pandemic? That’s a question I’ve asked myself more than once since the Covid-19 pandemic created what amounts to a nationwide quarantine in the United States — and many other countries. My wife and I have a good, strong marriage, and we really do love spending time together. But being in the same apartment 24/7, with no obvious end in sight, makes it feel like there’s a storm rumbling on the horizon. Right now, we’re getting along famously. In a few weeks, that might be less true."


Spreading peace one relationship at a time
Phil and Maude
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