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by Sylvia B. Bodell
| Marriage, Couples, Relationships, Adults, COVID-19, Corona Virus

Navigating a Healthy Marriage During COVID

Couples therapy provides tools for communicating

Couple holding hands 2 banner

by Sylvia Bodell with Evan Buja, LPC, MA, DMin

This year, Valentine’s Day may look a little different than in years past for many couples.

“Couples in general are feeling overwhelmed and stressed out,” said Evan Buja, LPC, staff therapist at The Center. “They’re dealing with the daily stressors of online fatigue, work, managing unemployment, homeschooling children, trying to help aging parents get vaccinated and the uncertainty of what’s next.

“The pandemic, now going on a full year, has put marriages under significant stress. They are navigating financial struggles, loss of privacy, medical concerns, and family issues. More togetherness at home can exacerbate or expose fault lines in a relationship.”

Couples therapy provides tools for communicating

Experts and clients agree therapy helps. It's not about finger-pointing or picking sides. Couples therapy provides tools for communicating. Couples learn how to diffuse disagreements in a healthy way. Pre-pandemic, Evan hosted marriage and pre-marital workshops and groups providing these tools. Last February, Evan led a marriage retreat at Lake Highlands Methodist Church, one of our network church partners, with couples of all ages.

“It's always better to go earlier to counseling in your marriage,” added Evan. “Unhealthy behavior and resentful feelings can become more difficult to change the longer that they continue.

“We all struggle with two things in marriage – entitlement and not taking personal responsibility. All couples experience conflict. And COVID-19 has added another huge stressor. I worked with a couple who came to counseling because they had already been fighting and then because of having to quarantine together at home during the pandemic, things became even more volatile between them.

“Through our time in couples therapy together and each spouse putting in the work, this couple developed the emotional skills and awareness needed to have healthy conflict resolution. Instead of becoming reactive with the other during conflict, this couple became increasingly able to calmly and clearly discuss significant topics and navigate conflict in a loving way, which led to improved emotional intimacy and connection in the marriage.

"One of the main challenges in marriage, whether in the stressors of a pandemic or otherwise, is to not be in feelings when attempting to communicate them with others. It can sound strange and even weird to do but having the ability to say what we are feeling is much more effective and can definitely help avoid escalating arguments which usually end in some sort of damaging chaos. Feeling feelings but not being in the emotions when communicating is certainly a challenge but well worth the effort to do so!

“I’ve also seen couples who have experienced more appreciation and a deeper commitment during the past year. They have been able to lean on one another and work through problems in ways they didn’t know they could do. Marriages can grow stronger and more resilient with the right tools.”

Evan Buja is a Licensed Professional Counselor who received both his Masters in Biblical Counseling and a Doctorate of Ministry in Spiritual Formation from Dallas Theological Seminary. He has practiced in the Dallas area for 20 years and has been with The Center for close to three years. As a husband and father, Evan understands the challenges of relationships during COVID. He sees college students, young adults, couples, and seniors at our Central Office, at our Lake Highlands United Methodist Church office and through tele-counseling.

We're here for you

If you or someone you know needs to talk about their marriage, grief, depression or anxiety, we're here for you and your family. Please call The Center to schedule an appointment with Evan or any of our other 40+ therapists at 214-526-4525. The Center is in-network with most major insurance companies for counseling services.

Are you struggling in a relationship?

  • Be mindful of emotions instead of bottling them up.
  • Have gentle conversations at appropriate times with your partner.
  • Reduce expectations and remember that everyone is stressed and worried right now.
  • Seek therapy or counseling.
  • If you are in an abusive/harmful relationship, seek help.
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