Relationships, the Coronavirus, and Big Conversations

No matter what stage of life you are in, now is the time for strong communication and mutual respect in your relationship

Kathy Longo, CFP®, CAP®, CDFA Monday, 29 June 2020

Relationships, the Coronavirus, and Big Conversations

Disasters often strike with little notice. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria surprised us with their ferocity in 2017, the Equifax security breach caught us by surprise that same year, and so it has been with the COVID-19 pandemic. Although some public health experts had coronavirus on their radar for some time, the general public was caught largely unaware as this worldwide health crisis forced us to abandon our usual way of life. While these three forms of disaster may seem to have little in common, they have all left financial devastation in their wakes, and they all represent periods of great transition for many people.

Right now, people around the globe are facing anxiety about the future, uncertain job situations, loss of income, health concerns, illness and loss, and lives put on hold. The news media reminds us of the major impacts of the coronavirus – nearly ten million confirmed cases worldwide, more than 20 million jobs lost in the United States alone – but there are a great many other consequences of this pandemic that aren’t making the headlines. Our relationships with one another are changing inside homes and within communities. Times of transition are often marked by confusion and feelings of uncertainty, but these difficulties are compounded when our loved ones are experiencing life transitions at the same time. This is particularly true with regard to our spouse or partner. When left untended, these relationships can become strained even in the best of times, let alone during a global health and financial crisis. Below, I will discuss several strategies for successfully moving through a period of transition while supporting and strengthening your relationship at the same time.

Harness Your Resilience: Care, Don’t Confront

None of us can be optimistic all the time, especially in the face of intensely challenging world and personal events. However, even if our initial reactions to the coronavirus pandemic included fear, anger, and sadness, we can choose to move forward in a positive and constructive way by calling on our inner resilience. This capacity to recover quickly and move forward is often the difference between succumbing to the overwhelm and choosing to see opportunities in a sea of change.

When it comes to relationships, resilient people are more easily able to recognize and manage their own feelings, as well as empathize with the feelings of their partners. When you can put words to your emotions and communicate them clearly and honestly, you break down barriers in your relationship and encourage open communication on both sides. Not only that, but resilient people tend to approach difficult conversations with care, not confrontation. This is a valuable skill when your spouse or partner might be struggling through a transition in a way that is different from your own experience. Tempers may flare, misunderstandings may be frequent, and communication may lessen. We are all guilty of sometimes taking our stress and frustration out on those we love most, but remembering to harness resilience can take the bite out of a difficult conversation and replace it with care and concern.

Practice Reflection: Build Your Emotional Self-Awareness

Although it can be difficult to see it, times of unexpected transition can give us the gift of clarity. Change and struggle are often catalysts for taking stock of what we really want out of life, and for placing a renewed focus on our priorities. When we reflect on our challenges and worries, then on our goals and dreams, we get insight into the future we truly want to create for ourselves.

Of course, thinking about your future also means thinking about the future of your relationship. Self-reflection is crucial because it guides you toward what you truly want, which is a topic you and your spouse should discuss frequently. Open and honest communication, especially in times of transition, is what keeps you operating on the same wavelength. Communication is also the best way to ensure you’re supporting one another in the ways you each need.

Communicate Intentionally: Have the Big Conversations

Transitions are uncomfortable, and human nature fights things that are uncomfortable. This leads many of us to want to cling to the normalcy of our relationships. As we evolve, though, so must the ties that bind us to those we love. As you’re walking resiliently into your future with a renewed clarity of mind, you’ll be forced to tackle important topics. You and your spouse or partner will undoubtedly need to discuss evolving finances and how you will pay for the future you’ll build on the other side of this transition, but you should also discuss what exactly it is that you’re financing. What kind of life are you choosing to live? What will bring you joy? How can you both feel fulfilled and live a life of meaning?

These questions can be intimidating, but couples who tackle them honestly – and, most importantly, together – will reap the benefits of a relationship grounded in strong communication and mutual respect. When you’re in the midst of challenging transitions, there is no better support to lean on as you weather the storm together.

Final Thoughts

Managing transitional stress during the current pandemic is no small feat, and we’re all bound to have moments when it gets the better of us. However, if we lean into this time of change, digging deep for our resilience, reflecting on what is truly important, and strengthening our relationships through communication and mutual respect, we can emerge from this challenging time better prepared to seize the futures we want for ourselves.

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About the Author

Kathy Longo, CFP®, CAP®, CDFA

Kathy Longo, CFP®, CAP®, CDFA

Kathy Longo brings over 25 years of expertise and experience to Flourish Wealth Management. Kathy is wholly dedicated to improving the life of each client and finds joy in making complex matters simple and easy to understand. She excels at asking the right questions, uncovering new possibilities and implementing the most advantageous strategies for success. Playing such a pivotal role in her clients’ lives remains an honor and a privilege. After earning a degree in Financial Planning and Counseling from Purdue University, she began her career at a small firm in Palatine, Illinois where she worked directly with clients while learning to build a viable, client-centric business. Over the years, she gained extensive knowledge and wisdom working as a wealth manager, financial planner, firm manager and business owner at notable, various sized companies in both Chicago and Minneapolis.

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