By Barton Goldsmith Tribune News Service
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Psychotherapist Dr. Barton Goldsmith, author of "The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time" shares the upside of working through conflict during these troubling times.
There has been a surge in divorce filings since the first lockdown. A few months of constantly being with the person you vowed to love forever has been too much for some couples. I truly believe that at the core, those couples never learned to nurture each other or their relationship, but let's look at some of why they say it happened.
A few couples have split due to political differences. Many others just got tired of their current partner and opted for loneliness or even isolation rather than share a space with this person they now dislike. If you are feeling like leaving, you may want to ask yourself, are you really upset with the other person or with your current life situation? Clearly you have a desire to leave, but you may want to reconsider before acting on it.
Most people break up because they think they can do better, and in some situations it may be true, but is that really a reason to leave a marriage or a long-term relationship? The truth is we may have conditioned ourselves to look for perfection when good enough is more than enough to make a relationship work really well.
When you seek the perfect partner or your soul mate, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. There is no one perfect person for you. What you need to find is the person who loves you enough to work through the inevitable roller coasters of life, including the current corona coaster we are all on.
A lot of couples split up after 9/11, but a lot of people also came together. There were many breakups and also many marriages. That isn't happening so much now, as dating and mating have become problematic.
So why would you want to end a relationship that you could work to improve when leaving means you will probably be alone for an extended period of time?
If the relationship is abusive, I encourage you to leave. But if the problem is selfishness, or laziness, or even an affair, you can choose to process the pain, make the necessary changes together, and become a couple again.
Don't get me wrong. I hate what is happening in the world right now, but if I have to go through the plague, I'd prefer to do it with my best friend. We look out for each other, and we don't get upset if someone is feeling a little out of sorts. We give each other room to be human. We share our experiences of living through this pandemic and the economic ravages it is leaving in its wake, along with the fight for equality for those who have been marginalized for too long. It's a lot for anyone to deal with alone.
Pandemic breakups could also be seen as panic breakups. Being scared that you will continue feeling unfulfilled is enough to make anyone run away, but you need to look at the whole picture, including your part in it. If you have been giving what you feel you have been getting (in a negative way), then maybe you can acknowledge some responsibility here too?
If you are putting the blame all on your partner, and they aren't being abusive or acting insane, you need to check out what's making you not want to connect fully with this person any longer. It could be something very simple, like a relationship with a family member that has gone sour or other differences. These are things that can be rectified, so you can allow yourselves to have the best lives possible during this very difficult time. I believe that being in and with family right now, no matter how small, will be the saving grace for those of us who walk that path. ___ (Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of "The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.") ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.