Members in the Media
From: NPR

Isolating With A Partner? Relationship Therapists Share Stress-Reduction Strategies

Many Americans are spending a lot more time with their partners these days.

And some of those relationships are being tested by the inevitable “pressure-cooker” moments that come with weeks of being confined to the home in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

“What we’re seeing is that there’s a clash between the terrible anxiety about catching the virus and having to stay sequestered 24/7,” says relationship therapist Julie Gottman.

So if a relationship is already on the rocks that anxiety, Gottman says, “has nowhere to go but towards the partner.”

She and her husband, John Gottman, who is also a relationship therapist, are continuing to see patients, virtually, during their time of self-isolation.

On the “stress-reducing conversation”

Julie: What we found in our research is that couples, when they are trying to deal with stress, such as this virus, will often try to solve a problem rather than listening to each other’s emotions.

So, what we advise is for one person to be the speaker, the other the listener — and for that listener simply to ask questions to deepen their understanding and then to just simply offer empathy. And empathy simply means naming that person’s feelings and saying, “It makes sense to me that you’re really feeling that.” It really helps reduce the stress.

John: Ask questions like: What is your worst-case scenario, here? What are you really terrified about? What do you ruminate about, what kinds of thoughts come to your mind when you’re just relaxing? What’s your default program that goes into your mind? Let me know what you’re thinking.

To be really like a tourist in the landscape of your partner’s mind and heart. And just listen and try to understand. That can have an enormous impact.

Research shows that that’s one of the things that keeps relationships and sustains relationships — is being your partner’s ally during times of stress.

Read the whole story: NPR

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