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'Couples are struggling': Therapists say it's been a tough year for relationships

Close quarters and a lack of social connections have been a challenge for couples, and for some a strain on their relationships.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Since last March, when many of us went from going to the office everyday to working from home, sharing tight quarters has been a challenge for couples and for some a strain on their relationships.

Two experts agree that couples experiencing this should know they're not alone, and that scheduling time to focus on reconnecting can be a good first step in moving forward.

“The couples that I’m talking to are struggling, it’s been hard,” said relationship therapist Dr. Julie Jeske. She said staying socially connected has been one challenge that she’s seen this past year, and couples are seeing a lot more of each other. Being homebound for so long can make things tough for couples.

She said the commute to work, and then back home, was a valuable transition time to go from one part of our lives to the other. But now we don’t have that transition. 

Jeske said don’t beat yourself up if you have become complacent in your relationship, but also don’t let being complacent last forever.

She said the steps to help couples through this time can be simple, but are not always easy. 

“Schedule time," she said. "It’s something people often resist, but you schedule an appointment with your dentist, why not do it with your partner?”

Dr. Aziz Gazipura is a clinical psychologist who agrees setting aside time to connect can help, especially right now. 

“I know people for years who have studied everything: They studied investing, they studied their career, and real estate," he said. "How much have you studied your partner?” 

Both therapists agree, this year has been difficult on all types of relationships. Whether it’s a spouse or a friend, rebuilding connections post pandemic will require investing time to bring that needed change.