If lockdown is testing your relationship, this simple and easy to do exercise could help improve communication with your partner.
In the unprecedented situation we currently find ourselves in, locked inside for most of the day and unable to go to work, it wouldn’t be surprising if even the most functional relationships are suffering.
Living together is one thing – after a long day at work and crowded commute home, seeing your partner’s face might be what you’ve been looking forward to. Or, if you weren’t sharing a home before deciding to isolate together, evenings and weekends heading out to bars, watching a film at the cinema or just staying in, were (hopefully) treasured moments.
But it’s inevitable that the magic may fade a bit when quarantining together. With no respite from the other person while spending 24 hours a day together, issues might arise that previously didn’t seem a problem.
Whether it’s the stress of job uncertainty, or worrying about vulnerable family members that’s making you snappy, or perhaps you’re just rubbing each other up the wrong way (have they left dirty pots in the sink, again?), quarantine is throwing up all sorts of problems for couples all over the country.
Grace Hazel, sexuality mentor and inspirational speaker, has confirmed just how common this is. In a recent Instagram post, she shared that since lockdown she’s received a stream of messages requesting help and information on how to navigate the stresses of a relationship in quarantine.
Specifically concerning bickering, or as Hazel describes it – when you feeling like shouting “oi, you bloody idiot, I hate it when you [insert that thing that absolutely fucks you off here], it makes me so mad” – she recommends trying a simple communication exercise instead.
Hazel explains: “If you really want to get something sorted out, try setting a timer so that you and your partner have around five minutes each to ‘consciously and nonviolently’ express what’s going on for real. This time is strictly uninterrupted (which includes facial expressions like eye rolls – which I am very prone to doing!)”
She explains that when the timer rings out after five minutes, the listener should respond with “what I heard you say is…” before doing their best to reflect back exactly what they’ve heard.
The listener then becomes the timed speaker and it continues to go back and forth, unpacking both of your emotions until you both feel completely heard and understood by the other person.
“Hand on heart THIS is the most important thing I have ever learnt about relating,” Hazel says of the exercise.
This exercise may be straight forward and in some ways pretty obvious, but sometimes when we’re caught up in the heat of the moment it’s easy to forget how to communicate fairly and calmly.
Doing this allows both parties to take the time to really think about the other person’s perspective, and often when we take a minute to walk in someone’s else’s shoes, it can help to understand why they’re reacting in a certain way.
So, if you’ve been butting heads with your other half, why not give this a try? It could help you both get back on the same page.