MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The coronavirus pandemic certainly has South Florida couples and families spending a lot of quality time together at home. While that can be a great thing, it is also not without its challenges. So how can couples now stuck at home avoid getting on each other’s nerves? CBS4’s Jim Berry spoke to South Florida marriage and family therapist Dr. Ayala Winer to get some answers.

Q: Let’s get right to the heart of it. Simply put, how do couples keep from getting on each other’s nerves?

A: First of all, thank you for having me. I want to start by saying that relationships are complex to begin with. And when you add the ingredients of crisis, it really magnifies the complexity of relationships. Crisis situations can either tear relationships apart, or creates a stronger bond that people never had before. In time of crisis, people really search for meanings. So this is the time that I tell people to try to utilize, to really sit together and try to build a relationship for meanings and existence, family relationships, fear, marriage or values.

Q: I want to talk about that fear factor for just a minute because obviously this is a very fearful time for so many of us. And you know, sometimes people don’t always manifest the stress that they’re feeling in a clear way. So how do you recognize the stress that your significant other might be feeling and how do you help them cope with it?

A:  So it depends on people’s coping mechanisms. Some people stonewall, they just shut down and they don’t want to talk about it. Others don’t want to stop talking about it, want to watch the news 24-7, which I think is very unhealthy. So I believe there has to be a balance. You have to find some time where you can express your fears, express your feelings, share how do you cope with your own fear, people cope in different ways. So sit together and share those thoughts. share those coping mechanisms that you have with other members of the family, and then go on to doing something that can kind of divert the attention from the situation and bring some more pleasure into the bonding of their relationships.

Q:  Okay, so many folks in South Florida are used to leaving the nest during the day and then coming back and reuniting at the nest whatever their work schedule is, but now everybody feels like they’re trapped in the nest. So how do you build that alone time so that folks can still have some time apart even when they’re together?

A: I am so glad you brought this up because this is really important. It’s very important to create some kind of a structure where you have some time where you bond with a family and are together to share, share all those things that I spoke on, but at the same time, also know that it’s important to have some time apart, that some quality time with family and some quality time to just do things that you like to do with yourself. And you create a schedule, you really create a schedule with your family members, this is the time that we can get together, this is a time where we each go apart and do our own thing.

Q: That’s an important thing. And you know it certainly is easy for us to get lost in technology, if you will. But you can go too far with that, too. So how do you know when it’s time to unplug from that technology so that you do take advantage of what we have now, the chance to spend more time together?

A: That’s beautiful. And I think that what we need to do is, like I said, to create sort of a schedule during the day, and really have some time where you can go on technology where you can check the news, but not to divulge yourself 24 seven, okay, immerse yourself with news because it can get very depressing, and it can be anxiety provoking. So it’s really important to know to shut everything off. You can create a family book club, so that each one can all read a book or a chapter from the book and then come together and discuss it or play some board games, find some other things to do other than immerse yourself within technology.

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