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How did the pandemic impact couples? Seattle relationship experts weigh in

Seattle-based psychologists John and Julie Gottman say the number of couples seeking help has grown throughout the pandemic.

SEATTLE — From good to great and bad to worse – that's how relationship experts are describing relationships coming out of the last year. 

Strong relationships got stronger, but for couples who already had some distress in their partnerships, they really suffered through the pandemic.

For Drs. John and Julie Gottman, renowned psychologists and founders of The Gottman Institute in Seattle, the number of couples seeking help has only grown. 

"It was as if they were in a pressure cooker with no release valve," said Dr. Julie Gottman.

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Many are in search of tools they felt they were missing while stuck at home during the pandemic. The Gottmans hope it's a trend that will last. 

"I'm hoping that people are going to be seeking help more from anybody and everybody out there because they deserve the support. They need the support," Dr. Julie Gottman said.

What do experts think will change in the post-pandemic world? The Gottmans say some people will feel less safe in relationships. You may find yourself or your partner struggle with wanting to be open or meeting new people.

But it's not all bad; it just means people are prioritizing how they spend their time and who they spend it with. 

"[People are] really thinking about who they are nowadays, a lot more," Dr. John Gottman said. "And if they do that collectively, if they do that together, they can arrive at a new sense of meaning and purpose in their lives." 

The Gottmans certainly hope these reflections won't mean people will rush to divorce lawyers now that the end of the pandemic is in sight.