Relationship conflict

Lockdown changed the nature of many of our relationships. Some relationships were taken away as we were stopped from seeing friends, family and colleagues (other than on Zoom); some couples have been forced to work and live with each other 24/7; other couples accelerated the pace of their relationship by moving speedily in together, and many parents were left with an empty nest. This 100-day period was seen by many as the ultimate relationship reckoning.

So, here we are facing lockdown 2.0. It will be shorter (we hope) and many of us will continue to work, with schools remaining open, so hopefully the relationship pressures many of us faced earlier in the year will not be as pronounced.

But many families will once again find themselves thrust into a new structure – living with relatives or in groups that you might not have chosen. This may especially be the case with grown children or elderly parents moving into your support bubble. This change to our normal life can be he source of much relationship friction, frustration and discord.

So what can we do to make things a little easier for ourselves?

The single most powerful thing any of us can do in our relationships is to set boundaries. Here are three crucial boundaries that many of find really hard to set, and which may cause us unhappiness because we lose our self-respect or let others control us:

  • You have the right to courtesy and respect from other people without having to please them or give them things first.
  • You have the right to decide if you are responsible for solving other people’s problems.
  • You have the right to say ‘no’ without feeling guilty.

If any of the above rights are disrespected by your friends or family members, you WILL feel angry. This is normal and OK. You can be mad at somebody AND also love and respect the person. Likewise, you can be mad at yourself AND also love and respect yourself.

These boundaries can be especially hard to set with our elderly parents – we can often regress to childlike behaviour with our parents and learning to set boundaries with them can really change things for the better. This is especially important in lockdown where many elderly parents seem intent on flouting rules, asserting their independence and simply not listening.

Counselling can be helpful to explore where you might need to learn how to set firmer boundaries in your relationships to make them happier and healthier. If you’d like an initial conversation to see how we might be able to work together, then please contact me, I’d love to hear from you.

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