This year has been challenging for everyone, and even if you’re the most loved up couple that you know, it’s likely 2020 has presented you with a few trying moments.
Whether you struggled being cooped up 24/7 in lockdown, or you’re dealing with the uncertainty of not knowing whether your wedding will go ahead, it can be hard to stay calm and patient all the time. We asked psychotherapist Ruairi Stewart, aka The Happy Whole Coach, for his top tips on managing your relationship during a stressful time.
“Right now, it can feel as though life as we know it is at a standstill. There is so much uncertainty around when things might return to some form of normality,” says Ruairi, “With so many having to cancel or drastically restrict their weddings for the foreseeable future, here are some things you can do to help manage your relationship during this difficult time.”
Show Yourself Kindness and Compassion
This means really allowing yourself to feel what you feel and to not judge yourself for how you are experiencing this unexpected loss. You might feel a mixed range of emotions such as sadness, guilt, anger, frustration, and disappointment – this is all perfectly normal and to be expected.
This is a form of grief you are experiencing and it’s important that you allow your feelings in. You don’t need to feel guilty for being sad or upset. This also includes not engaging in any negative self-talk or berating yourself for things you ‘could or should’ have done differently.
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Be Open and Communicate
Don’t assume your partner is a mind reader. Communicate with them, tell them how you are feeling and what you would like from them. Begin by saying “I feel…. stressed and overwhelmed” and “I need… some quality time spent with you, a hug and some reassurance”.
If your partner opens up to you about how they feel, sit with them, listen, and empathise with them. Validate their experience and tell them you are there for them. Please don’t try to fix things or fall into the trap of giving advice, sometimes people just need to feel heard, understood and know that support is there for them.
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Use Your Support Network
Reach out to those around you – friends or family who help lift your spirits and you can be totally yourself around. Speaking to these people in your life can help shift your perspective and keep you feeling grounded with so much uncertainty going on around you.
You might even have friends or family in your network who are in similar circumstances so you can support each other and find creative solutions based on what worked for them or helped them out.
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Find a Creative Focus Point
This could be anything from playing an instrument to taking up a new hobby or reconnecting with an old passion. It could be redecorating a room, or something that helps occupy your time and energy away from wedding related talk or planning. The time will pass regardless, so you may as well do something you enjoy to help you destress and unwind.
Acknowledge the Bigger Picture
The circumstances may not be ideal, but you and your partner are alive and healthy, you love each other and want to be together. You have the rest of your lives together and this is just a challenge for you to face.
Things might not have gone to plan, but that’s okay because there is so much to look forward to in your future and you will be able to celebrate your big day when things settle. Gratitude for what you have can be a powerful way to shift your perspective and help you see the big picture if you get overwhelmed.
Celebrate Your Original Wedding Day
Make a point of marking the day and doing something to celebrate if it feels right. Dress up, have drinks, have a nice meal, or celebrate with friends and family over Zoom. Whatever happens make sure you take time to mark the original wedding day in some way.
Focus on the Future
Ask yourself what you want to be able to tell your future kids/relatives/friends about how you both coped during this time with so much uncertainty. What will you say about how you worked together, how you adapted, how there was so much adversity and yet you both came through things together stronger than ever? Hold this thought in your mind, think about your long-term future and realise that this will pass and that you are both strong and resilient.
Feeling inspired? Make sure you read our guide to managing stress whilst wedding planning.