More couples using marriage counseling services during pandemic

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Counselors say couples are having relationship problems due to the pandemic forcing them to spend almost 24 hours a day together.

At the Springfield Marriage Institute, Karley Murphy specializes in marriage counseling.

Murphy says everyone is used to their own space, so spending too much time with your spouse can disrupt your daily routine and cause conflict.

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“We’re used to having our own space, our own routine,” Murphy said. “And we don’t like change as humans, we don’t really like to adapt to change.”

If a married couple already has unresolved problems, Murphy says being together all the time will amplify those problems.

“So if we’re having lots of togetherness, we can either have lots of tension in the home because things that have been previously avoided, really can’t be when we’re on top of each other all the time,” Murphy said.

When couples are dealing with problems, it can go one of two ways: The first is taking on fully your partner’s emotions, the second is building tension.

“They can be very highly reactive, very defensive and get into reactive patterns. Sometimes on the end of the continuum, it can avoid certain issues and so having lots of togetherness,” said Murphy. “We can either have lots of tension in the home because things that have been previously avoided really can’t be when we’re on top of each other all the time.”

Murphy says if you’re getting to a point where you’re communicating and not getting anywhere, she advises couples to take time outs, even if you’re still in your own homes.

This strategy gives both partners time to cool down, have your own space, and revisit the problem at a later time.

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