Considering the stress, the pandemic has caused in so many facets of our lives, it is not surprising that couples’ relationships may be yet another casualty. Tracy Dean, co-owner, managing partner of Cochrane Counselling Centre confirms that it is showing up in couple relations, partnerships and marriages saying, “We are seeing a real increase in demand across all areas of support needed but definitely intimate partnerships and families.”

Dean says that it is interesting that very few couples who seek counselling come in complaining about COVID specific problems or stressors. The virus appears to be revealing the cracks in a relationship with all the added pressures of everyday life. The pandemic has created a variety of stressors including financial, childcare worries, coping with change, and online schooling just to name a few. Likewise, Dean points out that at the same time there is a reduction in accessible resources provided by family, community, even being able to go to your gym to burn off some stress. Dean says, “Our homeostasis has kind of changed, our stress has gone up and our resources to cope with stress has gone down and so, as a result, we kind of need each other more and we need more from each other particularly in intimate partnerships. So, marriages and relationships that were good enough pre-2020 are just really showing the cracks with the added stress.”

Dean emphasizes that people are not alone if they are experiencing a crack in their relationship and there can be enough pressure in everyday life like job loss, extended family stressors, or illness in the family let alone with the added weight of pandemic stress to have an adverse effect.

It is normal for stress to impact couples and Dean says, “I don’t think you need to be in a major crisis and heading for divorce before you go see someone in marriage counselling. I think that they can really help us take good enough marriages and really make them great marriages.”

Dean says one of the biggest mistakes that couples make is waiting too long to seek out counselling because there are cases that waiting too long creates a situation of no return to happiness. If you are not happy or you aren’t connecting with your partner it is a good time to seek counselling.

Often couples become caught in a negative cycle that perpetuates the disconnect and an unsafe feeling in the relationship. Dean provided a few telltale signs that can help identify if you and your partner are in a negative cycle.

  • There is a lot of bickering or conflict over silly little things.
  • Arguments are never resolved, there’s never an outcome it doesn’t feel good at the end of it.
  • You feel like you’re having the same fight repeatedly about different things or you don’t remember what started it.
  • You might be reluctant to talk to your partner about how you feel or even avoid your partner.
  • You feel like your feelings don’t matter.
  • You feel your partner doesn’t understand you or hear you.
  • You have stopped wanting to be around each other.

Most relationships have challenges and bumps in the road but if you are checking the above boxes continually and you are increasingly unhappy it may be time to seek out help with your relationship.

Having a good relationship takes hard work but Dean points out, “Happy couples live longer. Couples have a much greater quality of health and length of life when they are in good healthy relationships.”

The Cochrane Counselling Centre has seven therapists that can help people deal with a variety of things over a lifespan ranging from children to seniors. They offer counselling to individuals, couples, families, and parenting.

So, whether you are feeling stress due to the pandemic or for other reasons, know that you are not alone and that there is help available.