Maintaining Relationships Through Difficult Times

by Carla Delgado

Big transitions in life put significant pressure on relationships due to the changing dynamics. Getting married, having kids, moving to a different city, dealing with loss, getting a new job, or even dealing with a pandemic – all these things significantly change how an individual relates to another person.

Some people may notice that social relationships tend to fall out during these times. The shifting of circumstances, needs, and goals has a huge bearing on how we deal with people. In this digital age where interactions are limited but wildly available at the same time, it gets even more difficult to maintain relationships with different people.

It is important to work on your connection to your support systems such as your partner, friends, and family members. There are ways to maintain social bonds in our lives, despite overwhelming ups and downs. Here are some tips for maintaining healthy relationships through big changes:

Spend some time alone.

Your relationship with yourself is a big part of how you treat others. Going through major life changes will make you feel mixed emotions, so it helps to take some time alone to process them. Even positive changes bring sadness because there is grief over what you lose when you move on to another phase in your life.

Don’t push your feelings away. Instead, have a clearer understanding of what you are feeling. Deal with the unfamiliar feelings rather than brushing them under the rug.

As we deal with a global health crisis, it is especially important to attend to your individual needs and interests. Finding your own space will help you center on yourself. Solitude allows you to rest your mental and social energy, letting you handle interactions much better. Don’t feel obliged to spend all day talking to your family, friends, and/or partner because you are just as important.

No matter what you are going through, take some time to breathe. Focus on the present and don’t get overwhelmed by what the future holds. Improve your relationship with yourself, and that will make an impact on your relationships with other people.

Foster intimacy in different ways.

Being intimate is not reserved for romantic attachments. You can be just as open with friends and family members, and many people find that platonic intimacy in friendships improves their quality of life. When going through difficult times, whether you are struggling with huge changes or having difficulty with a crisis, don’t push people away. It may be your initial thought and the easier option for you, but it will cause relationship rifts.

Intimacy goes beyond touch because it also about emotional closeness, so don’t feel that you have to rely on physical contact. It can be fostered between two people even while apart. Having mutual vulnerability and letting your guards down with other people will help strengthen and deepen your relationship.

Relationships are a two-way street, so be there for them too. Schedule a video call to update each other. Send a text or a funny meme. Start a discussion about a good film or television series that you just recently watched. Show them love in their love language. Sustain intimacy and create a strong support system. All the little things do matter.

Embrace the changes.

Many individuals make an effort to avoid change and make everything the same, but change will always catch up. Life is full of it, and as we grow older, we experience transitions between different phases of life. Changes regarding work, relationships, health, and news within the community and the world will inevitably happen.

Transitions are scary and difficult because priorities shift drastically. It’s better to admit that the times are changing, rather than struggling to meet expectations that aren’t as applicable. Your friends will understand if you can’t go out with them as often because you have a baby to take care of. Your family knows you have to concentrate on your new job. If you think about it, you also adjust expectations when the people close to you going through a major life change.

Remember to communicate and be honest about your struggles. You may not be seeing your friends or family as often, but it doesn’t mean your relationship has to suffer. By focusing on the things that you can control, such as your mindset and the way you deal with important relationships, you can reduce stress and improve bonds.

All kinds of relationships need work, communication, and understanding. It helps to imagine putting yourself in their shoes and seeing things from another point of view. Most of the time, everything’s easier said than done, but remember – a small effort goes a long way.

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