Increased time together because of COVID-19 could hurt, help some relationships

Family Psychology Associates in Cedar Rapids reported seeing more patients using telehealth...
Family Psychology Associates in Cedar Rapids reported seeing more patients using telehealth services rather than face-to-face due to concerns over the coronavirus. Friday, March 3, 2020 (AARON HOSMAN//KCRG)(KCRG)
Published: Apr. 3, 2020 at 5:56 PM CDT
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Many couples might be out of work or are now working from home due to the social distancing guidelines. Which means spending a lot more time with their partner than usual.

The lobby of Family Psychology Associates in Cedar Rapids sat empty Friday morning as patients opt for over the phone or telehealth sessions. Some people are turning to owner Dr. Don Damsteegt as they deal with stress and anxiety over the coronavirus, as well as more time at home with their partner.

"Good things can happen and bad things can happen obviously," Damseegt said.

He called it forced togetherness and it could put a strain on some relationships.

"When they could just go to work or go out with their friends, and they don't do that now - if they start to feel irritated, that may stay there and magnify," Damsteegt said.

Dr. Damsteegt suggests it's always important to take some alone time.

"Too much time together means that your life becomes narrower and less satisfying. We have to have a life of our own," he said.

He said to develop a new routine whereas a couple you do things together, but take time to do something you enjoy alone.

Hailey Galloway of Coralville is a college student finishing school from home alongside her boyfriend of four years in their small one-bedroom apartment.

"He (her boyfriend) can pretty much tell if I'm not in the mood to discuss anything with him or want to be alone," said Galloway.

Despite spending up to 10 more hours a day together than before social distancing, she said their communication skills are keeping their relationship strong. They’ve also found common ground in negative situations, like when they canceled a move to Washington State this summer due to the coronavirus.

"We've really just bonded over, 'that really sucks,' and we took the night we had to cancel our Airbnb and we said, ‘you know what, we haven't ordered food this whole time, we are going to do that and just relax and have ourselves that time to kind of mourn,’ because it was an exciting thing we really wanted," Galloway said.

Dr. Damsteegt said even though it may be tough now, some relationships may grow.

"I would think that people would notice that after a crisis is over, that yeah, ‘yah know, this really brought us together.’ They may not really notice it so much as it's happening."

He also said if you're in need of mental health services, to reach out and make an appointment with a trusted counselor or therapist.