Every relationship can be straining at times. Add being stuck inside, juggling the stress of working from home, taking care of kids, and any number of other things while a global pandemic rages and it’s no wonder couples counsellors are seeing a surge in demand.
|Lisa Kratz is a counsellor and marriage mentor, working out of her private practice in Victoria. (Courtesy of Lisa Kratz)|
Lisa Kratz is a Victoria-based couples counsellor who said she’s so busy she won’t be able to take on any new clients until at least the new year.
Reflecting on the last nine months, Kratz said she doesn’t think couples are having new problems per say. “I think they’ve just been intensified,” she said. “There’s not as much distraction in life.”
Don Collett, who practices in Victoria and Vancouver, agreed pointing out that when couples were always coming and going with different schedules it was far easier to avoid their problems.
“If they were even in a little bit of trouble as a couple before, COVID-19 has brought the problem forward for many,” he said.
Collett described the current situation as being “trapped in the hyper-present” and said couples are struggling to imagine a future that isn’t riddled with the stress of COVID-19.
“Now we’re kind of under the impression that there’s no escape. It’s here and we don’t know when it’s going to end,” he said. But, there are ways to combat that.
|Don Collett is a marriage and family therapist, working with clients in Victoria and Vancouver. (Courtesy of Don Collett)|
In Lima, Peru there is a giant chalkboard called “The Wall of Hope” where passersby are encouraged to write what they want to do when the pandemic is over. Collett said if couples want to survive they need to be doing something similar – look toward a brighter future.
Gratitude and understanding are also crucial, Kratz said. Both she and Collett emphasized the world is undergoing a collective trauma and no one is their best self under this much strain.
A shift in attitude is key.
“The happiest people in the world are the most grateful people,” Kratz said. When couples communicate, she said, they should focus not on the things they dislike but on the things they would like more of.
“If you’re upset with your partner, communicate about the things that you long for, the things that make you happy,” she said.
Kratz tells her clients that there is always a choice – every day they can decide whether to approach life with gratitude and peace or not.
“We can’t change our situation, but we can change the way we look at it,” she said.
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