Counselors say how to keep relationships strong during COVID-19

Updated: Mar. 29, 2020 at 5:57 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Many of us are spending more time at home now, whether that’s a good thing or not, thanks to social distancing. For, Petra and Lee Lafrese, who have been married for 40 years and are now retired, things are not all that different.

“Well, she’s always right,” said Lee Lafrese.

The couple attributes their long marriage to having fun and compromising. However, of the 40 years they have been married, they said only one has been as stressful as 2020.

“Probably when my wife was diagnosed with kidney failure. That was as stressful of a year,” he said.

13 years ago, Petra had a kidney transplant, but now with COVID-19 many of those same unsettling feelings are coming back. Some of their family members are on the front-lines, or have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

“This is especially a frightening time being that I’m immune suppressed,” Petra Lafrese said.

Again, they are leaning on each other like they did more than a decade ago. Petra said Lee’s support back then helped her get through everything.

Not everyone is in the same boat. The fall-out from COVID-19 could mean more break-ups. As people spend more time away from friends, work and social time, many are spending more time with their partners, in closer spaces.

(Tarah Kerwin and E.J. Kerwin, He Said She Said )

“Before this, we met a lot of couples that couldn’t make enough time for each other. Now, it’s like they have all the time in the world,” said E.J. Kerwin, co-owner of He Said She Said Couple’s Counseling.

“This has brought significant layers of stress on top of the stress they were already experiencing,” said Tarah Kerwin, co-owner of He Said She Said Couple’s Counseling.

The Kerwins, said they are busier than ever as couples struggle with the stress of COVID-19. It’s happening around the world, as reports of divorce filings hitting the max in Northwest China, and the hashtag #COVIDivorce floats around on twitter.

“People are processing it different,” said E.J. Kerwin. “And, they’re not accepting each other’s experience,” said Tarah Kerwin.

Counselors said now is the time to stick together and utilize the extra time together to make the relationship work. They suggest to check in emotionally with your partner daily, keep a routine and recognize your partner’s feelings toward the situation without judgement.

“Do not let this time be where you are in parallel processes, come together,” said Tarah Kerwin.

As for Petra and Lee, they have their own way of handling the stress.

“Humor! We have to look on the bright side of things, and I think that’s just our nature too,” said Petra.

He Said She Said Couple’s Counseling will be releasing free videos and programs for couple to work though together during this time.

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