File picture: Pexels
File picture: Pexels

Couples must maintain balance during lockdown stress, says psychologist

By Taschica Pillay Time of article published May 17, 2020

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Durban – The lockdown and financial challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic have put an added strain on couples' relationships.

Experts believe the lack of space and time away from each other could intensify a problem that was already there and had not been resolved in existing relationships.

Rakhi Beekrum, a counselling psychologist and marital therapist, said one of the questions she had been asked most often was whether there would be a spike in the divorce rate post-lockdown.

“Spending excessive time together can bring relationship issues to the fore and make them more difficult to ignore. We often see high divorce rates in January, after a couple has spent the festive season together.

"The lack of space and time away from each other can intensify an existing relationship. We are also distanced from our usual coping strategies, such as seeing friends, going to gym, places of worship or even just going to work - which is an escape for many. A lockdown is likely to intensify a problem,” said Beekrum.

She said the unprecedented levels of stress people were facing could take a toll on even healthy relationships.

Beekrum suggested couples maintain a routine and balance in their time with work, leisure and rest and make time for each other.

“With all the negativity at the moment, it is important to add positivity where we can. Make an effort to notice and show appreciation for the things your partner is trying to do to make life easier - perhaps cook for the first time or do household chores they’ve never done before."

She said couples needed to be imaginative and creative and have date nights at home, either a picnic or a themed dinner and movie night.

Dr Akashni Maharaj, a counselling psychologist, author and coach, said: “With the economy dipping the way it is and many individuals having sleepless nights about their financial status, relationships are going to take strain.

“Many couples fight over finances. If both individuals work and earn, it is advisable to take the team approach to curb the financial strain. By working as a team with the specific goal of financial security and stability in mind, then the risk of stress and anxiety becomes less,” said Maharaj.

Maharaj and Beekrum both encouraged couples to communicate when making decisions.

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