It’s hard to believe that we are in week 10 of stay-at-home and social distancing order. The important news this week is the business opening up in phase 1. There are a lot of conflicts happening in the news report. One of the gym owners opened up the gym despite getting the fine. Many people go to his gym, and he claims that he has members behind him to support him.
The weather is also becoming nicer. I know it’s hard for people to stay at home now that the weather is more beautiful. I also know that many small businesses need to open their store for survival. I know that many people are already experiencing quarantine fatigue that they need to get out of the houses.
I am not ready to go back to the restaurant or the gym soon. I know that my perspective is very biased. I am working with a few nurses, and they still reported a lot of stress in the hospital. Just thinking about their acute stress reaction that might turn into post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the future stopped me from considering attending the restaurant and gym. Going to the grocery store is the only public place I am willing to go for now.
So, I can see the needs and understanding the experiences from different sides. I don’t know what’s the answer.
This realization made me think about the couple’s communication and couple relationships. Surprisingly, more couples are requesting for the couple’s therapy in the past couple of weeks. I have noticed a few patterns.
First, some couples are on the same page of the social distancing and working from home rule. They both work from home while parenting the children with their homework or child care responsibilities, depending on the age of the children. They also are very good at dividing up household responsibilities. So, you might wonder: “what’s the problem?”
When both adults were working outside the home, their focus was on their work. When they returned home at the end of the night, they solely focused on their children and household responsibilities. Now, every single day, they have to focus on work and child care at the same time. It’s like doing two jobs at the same time!
Second, some couples are the same as the previous couple. However, their conflicts lie in the household responsibilities delegation and their working time. Many of them reported that they fought about who did more of the household chores and child care while the other person focused more on the work. The couples in this category also experienced the conflicts of who watches the children when they both are on the work conference calls.
Third, some couples are not on the same page with the social distancing rules. I have the hardest time working with couples in this category. Usually, the disagreement of the social distancing rules is just the surface issues. They already have a lot of different opinions about different things in their lives. The differences in the views on social distancing rules are just the tip of the iceberg.
The business opening policy made me think about the couple’s relationships. I can understand the needs and desires of different parties. However, there is no right or wrong answer. These different needs and wants are due to our divergent priorities. Because I see a few nurses and first responders, my preference is to keep these people’s stress low, and I am certainly all for slowing down the business opening. In the meantime, I also can understand those small business owners need to open up their business. From their perspectives, their business is their livelihood. I have heard people said: I won’t be able to survive before the virus gets to me.
Everyone has different needs, and therefore, it becomes a different priority and different opinions. I am not sure if there is a right or wrong answer. However, I said to one of my clients:
“Maybe there is no solution. Maybe there is no compromise on how to proceed. However, there is certainly an extensive understanding and compassion to where the other parties are coming from.”
For me, I know that all I can do is try my very best to understand and to have compassion for different people’s needs and where they come from regarding the issue of the business reopen. However, this is the emotional part of the communication. In terms of the action plan, this is the question I always try to ask myself from the beginning:
“No matter what my priorities and needs are, I have to answer this question: “will I be able to live with myself if I know I am getting someone else COVID-19 because of my decision?”
What’s your principle to help yourself decide your action plan?