With the arrival of COVID-19 and the resulting isolation measures in place, all Canadians have felt some impact on family dynamics. This means that parents have been managing their children more of the time and engaging in what researchers call family work. This family work generally takes on three forms: housework, child rearing and emotion work. While housework and child rearing can be easily observed, emotion work is done covertly and is not easily seen or measured.
Many couples struggle to find a good match in couple friends. The wife might really like the female in the relationship, or the husband might really like the male in the couple. Often one might be too loud, drink too much or be a little dull. These incompatibilities can spill over into disagreements between the couple or result in isolation or individual friend groups.
I have noticed that a new perspective can have a powerful impact on a marriage. We are so often stuck in our own vantage point and are unable to see how this perspective blocks any other.
There is a great deal of focus in the therapeutic community for empathy in relationships. Many a therapist in a couple’s counselling session has attempted to increase the empathy of one spouse toward the other in the hope of increasing their emotional intimacy.
In therapy, we can talk a lot about the problem, but the better option is to flip the problem and create clarity by asking what the opposite of the problem is. In my practice, I ask people how they would be experiencing their relationship differently if there was a miracle in the night and it was fixed.