The rules of social distancing in Britain, as throughout the world, mean that all non-essential travel and public gatherings must stop. People can only leave home to exercise, buy essential items, attend health care, or when their work cannot be done at home. Being on top of each other in the house is a real challenge. We are trapped inside our homes, forced to spend more time together than ever. We do not have to limit ourselves to a small family home, without a garden to escape, to feel the tension of the confinement.
We may have to deal with children outside of school with a surplus of energy. We depend on a partner for almost all our social support because we cannot be with our friends or family.
The tension of confinement can exacerbate already difficult relationships. Signs of family disharmony include negative mood, emotional outbursts, resentment, and feelings of frustration.
Handling children carefully.
Children and grandchildren can bring wonderful moments to our family lives. Her spontaneity and sense of fun can brighten up the day. But almost out of nowhere, popping, screaming or crying can pop and can be a little painful. They seem louder, messier, and more demanding than we expected. What they want can be different from what we want, testing our limits and borders.
Tolerance and patience are required. Counting to ten and taking a step back before overreacting. Also the ability to say ‘no’ firmly and consistently without undue fuss and blame. It may be necessary to negotiate in advance where to draw the line with the other parent of the children so that they do not learn to confront one parent. To accept authority, children need to be told the reasons why they cannot have what they want. But when he is upset and angry, the child is not ready to be reasoned. That has to come later.
We all need rest to restore our internal resources if we want to survive being imprisoned within our own home. Then we will more easily find the concentration and tolerance necessary to focus our attention on the needs of our children. They have to adapt so that they are no longer with their friends. Complaining about feeling bored, they will need support and encouragement to explore new hobbies.
Tragically, blocking will probably reduce the support available to us if we are single parents. For example from friends and grandparents. Without help, it will be more difficult for the adult to get a breath and energy to resume caregiving the next day.
I suppose it is natural for us to feel irritated if a member of our family bothers us. They can raise their voices when this is not necessary. The worst would be yelling and closing the door. And if there have been several outbursts of anger lately, we’d probably get mad, which of course makes things worse. Now we both think how unfair the other is. Resentment can ooze for a while and increase restlessness. We can end up imagining that we support each other.
The movie ‘Tit for Tat’ comes to mind with Laurel and Hardy. The two heroes open an electrical goods store next to Charlie’s grocery store. Comedy plays out in the way the characters involved respond to each other. Charlie mistakenly thinks that Ollie is moving towards his wife and damages some items in Stan and Ollie’s store. With resentment, Stan and Ollie respond by causing damage to more of Charlie’s things, making him do worse on their property. Retaliation intensifies; finally wreaking havoc on both stores. This is taking things to extremes.
Be aware and confinement tension
Escaping from a heat situation may be less easy during the lock tension. The police orientation is that people can go to a friend’s address for a period of reflection “following arguments at home”, as long as this is measured in days, not hours. But this may not be feasible if you have a duty to care for a child or family member who is ill or ill at home.
One needs to lower the tension in some way. Do not upload it trying to match the score. Don’t make things worse by turning your back on someone. The challenge is to keep your head. To notice resentful thoughts but not commit to them. Part of us wants to blame someone when things are not right. But instead of acting on it, we can learn to observe this inner rush to judge. We can be more aware not only of our own reactions.
Blocking and affirmation voltage
The result could be remaining silent when someone tries to. Perhaps wait for a more opportune moment when you are ready to listen. It is possible to resolve a disagreement later. Then calmly affirm our own point of view.
Those with affirmation skills can present their point of view showing respect, without interrupting or speaking unnecessarily out loud. Without insisting, one is right and the other person is wrong, certainly one can feel. This approach may involve being willing to negotiate some form of compromise.
Collaboration with the person who has offended us could be a possibility. Each must be willing to explore what happened between them. To reflect on where things went wrong. How the tension could have been avoided. There may be an underlying problem that can be addressed. A solution to the problem could please us and them and go beyond what each of us had wanted in the first place.
The tension of the confinement and the needs of the partners
Locked couples will bond for most of the time. A true test of love. To survive this difficult moment of confinement tension, partners need to learn even better than they had before, how to move on.