The coronavirus crisis has many psychological consequences: realistic fears of contracting the illness, anxiety stemming from apocalyptic scenarios, tension surrounding an actual or potential blow to one’s income, and the need to cope with dramatic changes in personal and business-related plans. When you factor in the element of quarantine, which forces stressed-out people to live together for two weeks without being able to refresh themselves – the flames licking the bottom of this psychological cauldron intensify.
As a couples and family therapist, I know that even without the virus, spending time crowded together with the family is quite a challenge. After Rosh Hashanah and Passover there is typically an increase in the start of divorce proceedings.
In light of the dramatic developments we are experiencing now, I asked some couples therapists to share some of their professional experiences with couples who have to survive quarantine. Following is their advice.
Talk about your fears
Couples that enter quarantine together are similar in some ways to couples who are about to move in together and are afraid of the intensity involved in that, says Aliza Ohayon Ovadia. Often one of the two is afraid of being forced to share a common space all the time, while the other is happy about the change and is almost unconcerned about it.
My main advice is not to ignore the fear but to discuss it. It’s very important for each member of the couple to be able to express his fears. Moreover, in the event that they are not actually dealing with illness but only with being in preventive quarantine – it’s a good idea to allow room for positive expectations about the good things that could happen during the time together.
A man looks out of the window near the Charles Bridge in Prague, Czech Republic. The Czech government has imposed further restrictions on the movement in efforts to contain the outbreak of the coronavPetr David Josek,AP
In technical terms, if there is enough space in the apartment, I recommend designating areas for the private use of whomever feels a need for some quiet. Creating such a separation is a healthy measure that enables movement between closeness and distancing.