We all have lots of relationships

We have relationships with our families, friends, people at work, members of our social circles and others. For most of us Lockdown puts them all into one of two categories: those we can’t meet up with and those we can’t get away from. This is not natural, as ordinarily most would fall somewhere between those two categories. We meet some people more often than others, but that frequency varies from time to time.

Relationships are now becoming all or nothing

Fortunately, many people are finding ways to use the internet to maintain relationships with people they can’t meet in person, although most of us are looking forward to being able to get together again.

A cartoon man studying a computer screen: trying to maintain his relationships?

A cartoon man studying a computer screen: trying to maintain his relationships?

There are also problems with being locked in with people, even those we love. If you don’t have such problems, do let us all know how you do it.

Very close relationships

I have often heard politicians and others, on resigning, say, “I want to spend more time with my family”. You might take that with a pinch of salt, but many of us now have to spend all our time with our families or flatmates or whoever. If absence makes the heart grow fonder, what about the opposite? Can you have too much of a good thing?

Strained relationships

Any underlying issues in your relationships are likely to be aggravated by being incarcerated together like this. Little things someone does that get on your nerves will become intolerable. Old arguments may come to the surface again and differences in attitudes towards anything will come more into focus. If these things apply to even the happiest of marriages or families, imagine how bad it must be in unhappy families, where there was already friction, or bullying or even abuse.

Can you save your relationship?

The first thing to do is to realise that almost everything works in two directions. You (yes YOU!) are almost certainly as annoying in some way as that other person. Yes, I know it’s hard to imagine if you’re as wonderful a person as myself, but do try! You could try to behave more considerately and reduce your own irritating behaviour, if you can identify it, and if not, you can make even more allowances for those you live with.

Does openness help relationships?

Usually yes! It is better for differences to be in the open and for you to talk through the issues, because sometimes something as  simple as a change of routine can help a lot. But where things are already strained, think twice about telling someone what it is that annoys you. Choose your words carefully and be sure to make it clear that it’s their behaviour that you don’t like rather than them. Pick the right time to say it. Be ready and willing to let them come back at you with criticisms and don’t take offence.

Is forgiveness essential in relationships?

Yes! I have written about this before and will probably do so again as it’s a message we all need to hear often. And I do mean ‘we’. You need to be quick to forgive and to ask for forgiveness too, because nobody is right all the time. Face it. What if you really think you were right? Don’t truth and justice count for anything? In some circumstances, I’d agree, but we’re not in those circumstances. Being in the right isn’t always the right thing. You need to value your relationships more than your prestige/status/dignity or anything else. I mean, you might have to apologise even when you haven’t done anything wrong, in your opinion. Go on and try it. Be bold! Get your priorities right.

What if the relationship is really bad?

Sometimes, none of the things I’ve said will be enough. You need help and that means you need to speak to someone. They’re still out there: Samaritans, doctors, social workers, priests, counsellors and all the rest. Use the internet or even meet in person, keeping two metres apart.  Do whatever it takes, but don’t just suffer and don’t make others suffer because you can’t cope. Get it fixed.

A preacher preaching. Some of them do more than talk. They listen and help.

A preacher preaching. Some of them do more than talk. They listen and help.