How to Disagree during Covid 19, ABOUT EVERYTHING

How to Disagree during Covid 19, ABOUT EVERYTHING

How to Disagree during Covid 19 is not easy. Whether online or in confinement, we are consistently bombarded with information and much of it is triggering for our belief systems. On top of that and for my purposes as a licensed marriage and family therapist, our restricted access to places to go if we wanted a break from our partner are limited, our kids are at home, we are put in roles that are new with schooling, and many of us face the loss of our jobs. This is a time when MANY disagreements are taking place. These are my top tips for disagreeing and how to keep perspective and have compassion in a time of confinement and uncertainty. 


Note: I would like to start with this note rather than end the blog with it, if you fear for your life or your children’s and are in an abusive situation with a partner, leave. Do not confine yourself with your abuser. If you need assistance or you are in immediate danger, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233 for help finding safety. 

Have Compassion from the Start 

If you know someone has a trigger, have compassion from the start and do not deliberately take action towards activating it. Chances are if you are reading this, you are not the one who is gaslighting or picking a fight, but you could be pain shopping or reliving trauma. Now is not the time for this. For the time being, do not look through old information that was traumatic for you the first time you found it. Just do not. 


Keep in mind that during crises comfort is key and behaviors are a great source of comfort for people so have compassion if you see a behavior return before addressing the issue. Obviously, if your partner is a sex or pornography addict and you discover that they have relapsed or continued acting out, you will want to implement the consequences you (hopefully) have in place. But if your partner is increasing their cell phone usage to access games, news, or healthy reading material, do not be alarmed. Your partner’s behaviors can be a way of coping just as some elements of your routine are yours. Try to have compassion and not judge. Remember, we are in an abnormal situation currently, and people tend to stray from their “normal” during abnormal times.


Issue Identification: Mine, Yours, Ours? 

You may have all the compassion in the world and are staying present in your relationship and not pain shopping, but something can still happen. IT MAY REALLY PISS YOU OFF. You start to feel a hot neck and a turned stomach and your physiological response is tripped. Contain yourself. Stop. Breathe. Leave the room. Lock yourself in your bathroom listening to opera with some bonbons. Just move and be quiet. Now is the time to reflect, relax, and figure out where this originated if the issue is a trauma of yours, gaslighting by a partner, or their issue, or a trauma you are both consistently reliving or if it is a boundary violation. 


  • When you have slowed your heart rate, and calmed physiologically, grab your journal and write the answers to some questions. 
  • What happened? 
  • How did it make me feel? 
  • Why does this occurrence elicit this type of response from me?
  • Does this response remind me of anything? 
  • When was the last time I felt this? 
  • What does this type of physiological response usually mean for me? 
  • Was there a boundary that I set in place that requires addressing and enforcement? 

Now wait some more. Give yourself as much time as you need. Never rush into a fight. You will end up saying things you do not mean and bringing up a bunch of things that have nothing to do with the issue at hand and I will bet that the way you say them will lack tact. You cannot take anything you say back. Ever. You can apologize for them, but they have already escaped from your mouth and there is no way to put them back in there. Careless words keep me in business. So just wait. 

Choose your Confrontation Moment 

You have sorted out whose trauma this is, if a boundary was trespassed or a trauma was triggered and now you want to communicate. Choose your moment to discuss this. A neutral space that you do not feel threatened and a time of day when both partners are clear headed is vital. The time to talk is not after a bottle of wine and you both have been watching news all day or homeschooling a toddler. Try setting up a comfy place and light music. No harm in essential oils for relaxation as well. Then open your discussion with an invitation. Let your partner know that you have something you need to discuss and ASK them if they feel comfortable having the discussion with you at this time. Keep in mind that your partner may not be comfortable at that time and you may need to collaboratively find a different time that works for both of you. If you begin the discussion and you see that you or your partner are having difficulty remaining calm and being present, you can always call a time-out and return to it at a later time when things have settled.  

Choose your Battle 

This is the most important element of disagreeing during confinement. What are you really fighting about? Is it the Cheerios box top that was left open? Is it carbs in general? Or is it that you do not feel like your lifestyles work and that you would be better off with that guy who watched your story on insta? Get deep and down to the issue that is upsetting you. Of course lifestyle is a light issue that can be blown out of proportion, but feeling like you have grown apart from your partner is not a light issue. Reconnecting and intimacy are readily available during this time, you just need the right tools. 


Do NOT bring in old fights. This is called “kitchen sinking”. I mentioned it loosely when identifying the issue that is the source of the disagreement. When you disagree, the temptation to bring in every single issue that makes you not like a person or every single issue you have had in the past is enormous. Don’t do this! It makes your position weaker and your partner will not understand and feel ambushed. One issue at a time. Tackle different issues on different days. 


If you have serious disagreements while confined, I am accepting Zoom couples counseling sessions. This can be a powerful time of reconnection for some couples because you have the time to do the work. Stay sane, and disagree smarter!!!


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The contents of the JuliaLMFT Site are for information purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional clinical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a health condition.