We are under an avalanche of horrible news these days, and this translates for many into a larger emotional than we usually carry.
You may be tempted to hide your emotions or act out upon them. I would choose a third option. We all have every right to our emotions, so while boxing them off because they are hard may seem like a good coping strategy, it actually places further burden on ourselves because it lets those emotions fester inside. We can’t work through them when we box them up.
But the other ‘go to’ strategy – of just blatting them out all over and with little thought can lead to hurting others you love (including, at one extreme, domestic abuse, which is on the rise). So that strategy isn’t in your best interests, either.
Instead, try creating a time when each person can talk – respectfully – about any emotions that they are feeling that are important to them. There are two specific ways to do this that I like – pick either or both.
1.) at the end of the day take about 5 minutes to finish the sentence “What you need to know most about me today is…” You can answer that by talking about an emotion (“…that I’m scared I’m going to get sick”) or about something you wish to share that’s happened that impacts you emotionally (“…that I am proud I finally got to refinishing the teak chair after putting it off for a year!”)
2.) schedule two 30-60 minute meetings a week for talking about emotionally laden issues in a respectful way. In one meeting one partner leads. In the other, the other partner leads. Make sure to talk from your own perspective (“I feel rather lonely right now.”) vs. blaming your partner (“You don’t pay enough attention to me.”)
And, finally, at any time during this crisis, if you need a hug or just plain reassurance, let your partner know (assuming they have been quarantined the proper amount of time for that hug!) Don’t expect your partner to ‘read’ your emotions. Share them overtly, gently and in a non-critical fashion and ask for what you need. And when your partner asks you for some emotional support please try to remain open to provide it.