Coronavirus: how to make sure our relationships survive | FT

Psychotherapist Philippa Perry offers some essential advice to partners, parents and all people in isolation to help them through the stresses of social distancing with relationships intact. See if you get the FT for free as a student ( or start a £1 trial:

Hi i’m philippa perry i’m a psychotherapist and i’m here to chat to you today about the situation we all find ourselves in which is new and strange what are we supposed to think about it what we supposed to do about it some people want to know why it’s so weird this isolation thing and i can give you a little example about that so my daughter came tapped on the

Window waved to me and then walked away again she did that solo and yet i took it like a rejection my head nu is a hello but my body thought it was like we’re all feeling this it’s mind body dissonance it’s your head telling you something your body feeling something else we’re in a new situation it’s all completely weird and it will take some getting used to nobody

Knows how at the moment because it’s a new situation but i’ve got a feeling we will get used to it and we will muddle through and we will find a way and there’s no way of getting it right you’re gonna have feelings about it it’s okay to have those feelings you don’t have to be happy the whole time the most important thing at this time and every time really but we

Can forget about it is our relationships and looking after them i can’t see them one little tip is when you’re skyping look at the lens it’s far more intimate when we look at the camera another thing is it’s strange when we only have the exchange of words because we’re used to this thing of being with someone in a sort of body-to-body way and one way we can stay

With and be with people is to have these skype machines switched on while you’re watching the same tv program while you’re cooking or something it’s incredibly intimate really what if i get so stressed that they take it out on my kids if you do snap at them apologize don’t think you have to blame them for you losing your temper go oh i’m so sorry i shouldn’t have

Snapped at you then i’m stressed it’s not your fault it’s kind of tricky if the kids are around you and you can’t be fully with them because you’ve got to work because if mum and dad are there but they’re not playing with you even though you’ve been told it’s because they have to work you will feel it as rejection as a child the best thing to do in this situation

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Is not to say to them look i’ll play with you and i’ve done my work the best thing to do is to play with them first and try and get them on something i call autopilot so if you’re playing with you know they want you to talk dollies at the dolls house or make broom broom noises with the truck they’ll eventually take over from you because you won’t be doing it right

But they feel secure that you’re interested in them and you’re engaged with them so they won’t need to keep checking so you’ll gradually be able to retreat until you’re almost on the laptop and doing those spreadsheets but if you try and do your spreadsheets first they’ll keep going have you done it yet have you done it yet have you done it yet just worry about

The quality of time you have when you’re with them because that’s the most important thing it doesn’t really matter if they finish that school project or not what matters is that you enjoyed being together more is society collectively feeling don’t think we’ve been this united for a long time at least now we’ve got a common enemy instead of fighting each other

Over brexit remember brexit we will probably all make up our own narrative about it so if you are a healer like a yoga teacher you’ll say the earth is healing because we’ve got no pollution at the moment from aeroplanes if you’re a meditative sort of personal girl i’m exploring my inner landscape if you’re a pessimist you’ll go the end of the world is nigh and

These are the ways we soothe ourselves and it’s fine we can make up whatever story helps us get through i quite like the healing the world one the world will keep spinning for another few billion years why is it so hard for teenagers when you’re a teenager you’re all about finding a new tribe and leaving the family behind you’re ready to separate you’re ready to

Make your way in the world and you’re ready to start mating as well and you so want to get on with that you know to us six months is nothing to them it’s like another lifetime and so they will be angry and they will be frustrated that they’ve had to put the brakes on this new exploration this new time of life and we must be sympathetic that you know theirs is the

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Only generation not going to pop festivals this year and setting fire to their tent like they were looking forward to doing another thing is if you think about the teenage brain their emotions are at their peak height they can feel in color and our feeling is like black and white in comparison but their frontal lobes the cerebral cortex this bit here where you do

Your thinking and your reasoning that isn’t completely wired up yet so they’ve got all the impulses but but but not the mechanism to hold those impulses in check necessarily those are still developing and we can’t fix it for them we want to we want them to have that great time we can’t fix it but we can be alongside them if they know we understand it won’t cure

It it won’t fix it but it might make it a little bit better how the hell am i going to maintain my relationship with my partner in this intensive lockdown situation now not only will our relationship with our child be under stress but maybe being cooped up with your partner the whole time or your sister or whoever it is you normally live with is going to be tricky

Too my first problem is that my husband used to go out about twice a week on his own and i could catch up with my cookery programmes that are record and i used to go out once or twice a week and he would watch his war films then but now we have no time for these separate individual activities because we do insist on sitting on the sofa together and not having

Separate tvs and i think the best thing to do is not sweat the small stuff and if you get told off for stacking the dishwasher bran just go oh you’re so right rather than make it into a win-lose situation you can carry on stacking the dishwasher how you always do it but listen and go oh it must be hard for you that i stuck it wrong you know just be nice if you

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Can be if there is any trouble in any relationship this will put a magnifying glass on it and maybe that’s a good thing because then you’d know you’ve got an issue you have to sort out after people have spent christmas together divorce rates go up in january so i’m expecting maybe this enforced period of isolation will have the same effect and nothing i can say

Now will make any difference how do i deal with the uncertainty this is also new this isolation stuff but you might wake up in the morning and think nots different something’s different and then remember it’s almost like you wake up from one dream and into another that doesn’t feel real so we feel a bit weird and a bit odd and a bit ungrounded which isn’t helped

By not being in contact with people that we’re normally in contact with now you might think but i live on my own and i love living on my own and it’s great the thing is when you live on your own you’re choosing to live on your own and you go out into the world you maybe go to an office and then you come back and be on your own and there’s a rhythm to it and and you

Can self-regulate by being on your own and you love your alone time but if you have to be alone and it’s not a choice it will feel weird give it time it’s early days you’re not supposed to have this thing worked out by now you will work it out in your own way like you always work things out in your own way it’s just that we haven’t done it yet you might think when

Will this be over and how can i cope with not knowing what the future holds you never did know what the future held we just kid ourselves the such a thing of certainty the only thing that is certain is that everything keeps changing all the time and the difference sometimes between sane and insane is being able to accept change or being denial about it here’s a

Time for us all to practice accepting change you

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Coronavirus: how to make sure our relationships survive | FT By Financial Times

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