Relationship challenges during lockdown

For all of us, our world has turned upside down, and our regular day-to-day routines have changed. As humans, we don’t cope well with change, particularly when the change was not our choice.

We are feeling a loss of control, and as a result, we try and over control what we can. Our independence has been taken away, and we are feeling anxious, overwhelmed and uncertain. We all react to stress differently and have our own coping mechanisms, and more often than not, we take out our bad behaviour on those we love the most.

For many of us, our relationships in lockdown have been fraught with conflict. According to Relationship Expert, Paula Quinsee, when we find ourselves in a conflict situation, we take on one of two fighting styles – the minimiser or the maximiser.

The minimiser can be compared to a tortoise, who, when they feel threatened, retreat into their shell. When a minimiser is under pressure or in conflict, they tend to pull their energy inwards. Conflict makes them uncomfortable, so they often resort to the silent treatment.

This is the opposite style to a maximiser, who can be compared to a lion, attacking when threatened. Maximisers put all their energy into finding an immediate solution; they want to hash it out, here and now.

As they say, opposites attract, so you are likely to find you have close relationships with people whose conflict style is different from your own. How then do we best manage conflict?

Minimisers need to be brave and speak up, and maximisers need to tone down their energy. We need to avoid the blame game; it gets us nowhere. We need to check in with ourselves continually, we need to create a safe space where we can discuss the issues causing us conflict.

We are grieving the life we used to have; we are mourning the simple things we used to take for granted, time spent with family and friends, travel, playing a round of golf. Our interactions with people now seem so sterile. Everyone is masked and guarded, and it’s so impersonal. It’s hard to imagine that life as we once knew it will ever return.

Now is all we have, and we have to learn to live in the now. When it comes to our relationships, we may need to find new ways of connecting. We have to incorporate joy and play into our lives now. We need to create a new routine and find things to do together. This is the perfect time to tackle those DIY projects you haven’t got around to yet.

Most importantly, is this. We need compassion for self and others. We need to acknowledge that we are all trying to get through this time as best we can. Some days are harder than others, and that’s okay. We need to be kind to ourselves, and be supportive of the people we love and care about when they are struggling.

Click here to listen to Kim Potgieter and Paula Quinsee discuss this topic in more detail.

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