“Hi there, this is Dr. Bhatia.

I hope wherever you’re watching this video, you’re keeping safe and healthy. During COVID-19 we’ve been talking a lot about self-care and self-help and helping ourselves process our own anxieties and stressors during this very difficult and challenging time living in isolation. But one of the things that I want to talk more in detail about with you is how we’re managing our romantic relationships. And to that end, we’ve just put up a new blog at our website as well as this week we’re going to be doing our mental health challenge on focusing on relationships.

In a general sense, romantic relationships can be difficult, they can be challenging, they require a lot of work and energy and being in a healthy relationship is not easy at times. Now conflict and difficulties are very common and very normal in relationships. And in fact, we know from research that experiences that healthy relationships, one of the main characteristics are the ability to have healthy conflict. So being able to argue well and being able to challenge each other.

So during COVID, we’ve been struggling a lot with trying to figure out who we are, what we’re dealing with, how we’re struggling and managing. And in couples work, it’s very important to understand that fundamentally one of the biggest challenges we have in relationships is understanding and having empathy and perspective for your partner. It can’t be understated just how important that is.

We have to remember that each of us are individuals that have our own individual challenges, our own individual struggles, anxieties, perspectives, and we enter into relationships with all of that part of our history so to speak. So there’s the me and then there’s the other, and then there’s the “we.” And unless we understand that even though we’re supposed to be a unit, that we both have our own individual perspectives and our own individual histories, until we understand that, that can lead to a lot of conflicts and disappointments. So first and foremost, I always encourage patients who are in couples therapy and in general to understand that just because I think a certain way or I feel a certain way or I behave a certain way doesn’t mean my partner’s going to automatically do the same. So I think having that perspective is important.

Also, I find that what’s important to couples counselling and healthy couples’ relationships rather is the ability to put yourself in their shoes. Asking yourself, “What does my partner think? What do they feel? How are they coping?” So open dialogue and communication and being able to attune yourself to their needs. As well focusing on communication. It’s very important that sometimes the difficulties we have are not about what we say, it’s how we say it. So effective coping, effective communication styles are very important as well.

Finding ways to set healthy boundaries is also very important, especially right now during COVID when we’re struggling with being isolated in a house or a condo with our entire family or our partners. Even though we’re a unit, we’ve got to find time for our own space and our own individuality and giving each other that space to cultivate that.

So these are just some of the kinds of strategies and tips that I want to bring to your attention. And if you want more information, you can check out our blog. And this week on Instagram, we’ll be posting a lot of different tips and strategies on how to maintain and grow your relationships during COVID. I hope you’re all well and I’ll talk to you soon.

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