Marriage Challenges Post Pandemic Panels: A Panel Discussion

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The pandemic has dramatically changed the way people communicate with each other. Married couples are no different. They have grown more distant and have been facing various problems in their marital lives. Therapists have noticed that many married couples are experiencing disturbances and tumult within their relationship dynamics. 

There are several reasons for this. Lockdowns created intimacy issues because couples were forced to work together from home or stuck in different cities. In the latter case, they could not be with each other for a very long time. In both extreme scenarios, married couples deviated from their usual communication patterns and jeopardized their typical interaction styles. 

Consequently, marital challenges are common worldwide, and most therapists seem to agree. To understand these problems in depth, we decided to connect with three marital therapists who are well acquainted with these problems. 

We spoke to Toni Assaker, a therapist at OB-Hustle, Gayane Aramyan, LMFT, and Joylene Green, LMFT, Owner of Family and Friends Counseling

Toni Assaker is a therapist with 2 years experience, and also has a side hustle to juggle with. Gayane is a licensed marriage and family therapist from Los Angeles, CA. She is trained in Emotionally Focused Therapy and loves working with couples. On the other hand, Joylene Green is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and has over 18 years of experience in the behavioral health field. Joylene uses scientifically researched approaches to help individuals, couples, and families reach their goals.

1. What sort of problems and challenges do married couples face today?

Toni: Married couples today, especially young ones, get bored easily. They often imagine that after their marriage, they will be happy forever, without understanding the true weight of being a married person! This generates a feeling of inadequacy, as they often have to face the realities and challenges of being married. 

Gayane: In my opinion, married couples have a hard time with communication. Especially after the pandemic, couples are having a hard time differentiating their roles and how they show up in their marriages. 

Joylene: I would say infidelity is the biggest problem for couples. This hasn’t really changed pre or post pandemic.

2. In what areas are these challenges most evident?

Toni: These challenges are seen within the marital relationship. In addition, they also percolate into daily routine and parenting responsibilities. 

Gayane: Couples have a hard time deciding responsibilities, communicating with each other, and allocating roles. Most find it hard to decide who takes care of household chores, who works, and who cooks and cleans. 

Joylene: Lack of communication is a serious issue. Frankly, this has been around forever, but I feel it is now more pronounced due to technology. If you look around during a restaurant visit or even at people’s homes, everyone is on their phone. This breaks down communication to a large extent.  

3. Before the pandemic, what were the most common challenges you were facing with married couples?

Toni: Before the pandemic,the most common problems were about parenting, social media usage, and rifts between parents and childrens. 

Gayane: Communication has always been the main issue. However, the pandemic blurred the lines of roles for couples. People had to work from home, and that created a lot of issues with regard to expressing needs and desires. 

Joylene: Like I mentioned before, infidelity is the biggest problem both before and after the pandemic. Anxiety in general has affected more couples post pandemic. Particularly, I see more health anxiety, which makes sense.

4. What is your advice for married couples with post pandemic challenges?

Toni: I would advise them to stop spending so much time on social media and Netflix. I would also request couples to fight the anxiety of being stuck at home during lockdowns. Instead, they can work on shared activities and spend some precious time together as a family. Such times may never recur again!

Gayane: My advice is quite simple. Pay attention to how you communicate with your partner. Your partner isn’t your enemy. You are on the same team. Language has so much power in relationships!

Joylene: Couples need dedicated time for connecting face to face. They should keep their phones aside for a while.

5. What therapies would you recommend for married couples?

Toni: I recommend reflective listening and emotionally focused therapy. These therapies empower couples to find comfort in each other. Narrative therapy is another option. 

Gayane: Emotionally Focused Therapy is wonderful because it focuses on what each person feels and their experience. Most of our issues come from the desire to feel needed, loved, wanted by our partner. This is why the goal of this therapy is to get to the bottom of what each person feels and learn how to communicate that effectively with our partners. 

Joylene: I practice evidence-based therapies for couples, individuals, and groups alike. 

Reflective listening and emotionally focused therapy help couples beat the blues

Indeed, the lockdown has dramatically changed the way married couples interact with each other. There have been infidelity issues, loss of interest in intimate relationships, and a need to be alone. 

Conversely, many couples have become very needy, which has begun interfering with their marital relationships. Couples with children face problems, especially regarding social media and Netflix. They cannot spend time with each other and ensure that children spend quality time with their parents. 

This panel discussion was fruitful and helped us understand how therapists deal with conflicts between couples and their children. To address these issues, marital therapists advise opting for reflective listening and emotionally focused therapy. These therapies are known to reset relationships and improve problems within the marriage dyad.

Jaiyant Cavale, Clinical Psychologist
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