Let’s discuss the other side of Covid casualties that aren’t being discussed as much, relationship problems during COVID-19. So many people are experiencing fractured relationships with friends, family, and spouses during this time. There are actionable items on how to fix the fractured relationship and prevent the relationships from being damaged during the Covid crisis.
In this post, I’d like to discuss what you can do if you have strong reactions to other peoples’ decisions surrounding COVID such as not wearing a mask, traveling, or getting together with others. Here are three steps to consider before you share that opinion. These steps could avoid relationship problems and save your relationship.
Pull Out Your Empathy
Most people have empathy. Keep in mind, It can get tucked away during difficult times but the key is to look for and find your empathy. It might help to remember that we don’t know everyone’s situation and we don’t know what’s going on in their lives.
People who are older are going to have a different reaction than those who are much younger. Different stages of life lead to different perspectives and therefore different decisions.
People who do have underlying medical conditions are going to make different decisions from those who are healthy. You may not understand another’s medical history even if they “look fine.” But one’s medical situation surely impacts their perspective and thus decisions.
Those who are in the medical field are going to make different decisions than people who are not in the medical field. Experience gives people different perspectives. Therefore, medical personnel will make different decisions from non-medical personnel.
Try to do what’s best for your situation and let others make their own decisions. We’re all adults and nobody likes to be controlled or criticized for their decisions. If you’re having trouble pulling out your empathy or hanging onto your self-control here are some tips to help you:
Share Your Opinion in a Thoughtful Way
Most people know not to browbeat someone with their opinion. But others try to slide their opinion into a conversation in a covert way. But these approaches are often obvious criticisms or control methods and always damaging to a relationship.
For instance, perhaps you hide your opinion in a question such as: Didn’t you read the guidelines about wearing masks or, How can you travel at a time like this? You may be trying to pass your criticism off as curiosity but the bottom line is you aren’t fooling anyone. No one likes to be criticized.
Another common way to try and hide an opinion is via the educational approach. This often takes the form o: sending an email or social media message with guidelines or other information attached. The hope is the information will disguise the wish to control, but it doesn’t. And no one likes to be controlled.
There may be no great way to share your opinion with someone who hasn’t asked for it. But certainly wrapping it up in a question or information is not the way. Sharing more of yourself in these situations is a better way to proceed.
So, instead of “Didn’t you read the guidelines?” you could say “Oh, what are the guidelines now for wearing masks in public?” And instead of shooting off that email you could say, “Have you read anything that explains the guidelines well? I’d love to exchange articles with you if you’re willing.” Being curious and taking a give-and-take approach gets your point across while keeping the relationship intact.
What to do if You’re Having a Strong Reaction
If you or someone else is having an overly strong reaction to another adult’s decisions, that’s not normal. If someone else’s choices drive you to anger, tears or chronic worrying then it’s time to take an emotional inventory.
I advise you to consider what is going on within you that you need to change, as opposed to trying to change the person who is triggering this strong reaction.
For example, it is very common for someone who has a very rigid set of rules for themself to become unusually upset about someone else’s decisions. It’s upsetting for them to see someone acting free when they’ve imprisoned themself. This is often due to a misguided idea that these rules will make them “good” or in control. They don’t like to be reminded that they don’t have to be so strict on themselves. Instead of lightening up a bit, they try to imprison others with their rules.
Remember, your relationships are going to go beyond the pandemic and you want them to last and be healthy. Follow these helpful relationship tips to avoid serious relationship problems.
For more on common relationship problems, go to www.drldabney.com.
For more personal assistance with creating happy, healthy relationships, check out the following:
- Find out the top 4 “get out now” red flags in relationships and why they are so important. Click Here.
- Learn how to read all of the red flags in your relationships! Recognizing the top behaviors that lead to toxic relationships and what to do about them is important when pursuing healthy relationships. Click Here.
- The Online Intimacy Now Program created by Dr. Dabney will help you find more constructive ways to handle your relationship issues, learn how to achieve mutual understanding, and free yourself from bickering, walking on eggshells, or a sense of loss. Click Here.
- Or work directly with a Dr. Dabney associate to take your relationship to the next level through Video, or Email Coaching.