Virtual Workshop Helps Couples Prioritize Their Relationship during COVID-19

Third in a series of virtual meetings from ISU Extension and Outreach

August 28, 2020, 10:01 am | Anthony Santiago, David Brown

Couple washing dishes by Daxiao Productions/, Iowa -- In many ways, building a strong relationship is like building a house. It starts with laying a strong foundation. In healthy relationships, that foundation consists of trust and commitment, which must be intentionally nurtured. That’s the premise of Lay the Foundation, the third in a series of virtual meetings to help couples elevate their relationship during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Barb Dunn Swanson and Malisa Rader, both human sciences specialists with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, will lead the third virtual meeting Wednesday, Sept. 2, from 12:30 to 1 p.m. During this session they will review the tools couples can immediately use to improve their relationship during this challenging time.

The information presented will be based on ELEVATE, a relationship education curriculum developed by the National Extension Relationship and Marriage Education Network.

Lay the Foundation

“Covid-19 has certainly changed our lives and many couples are feeling the stress of having to manage the unpredictable situation. Our vulnerable senses influence how we process and communicate information,” Dunn Swanson said.

Couples’ trust and commitment to each other must be maintained and even increased during this time because trust can be easily broken, especially during unseen or unexpected events. In this lesson Dunn Swanson and Rader will help couples become aware of their choices and decisions and help couples be intentional in strengthening their relationship.

“We will focus on two ways to do this: through prioritizing the relationship and through intentional efforts,” Rader said.  

Dunn Swanson and Rader offer these suggestions.

  • Make your relationship a priority. Make time for each other and balance your personal interests with the relationship. Talk about what you need from each other. Separate activities and interests are healthy, but only if they are balanced with couple time, too.
  • Practice Intentionality. Show your partner how much you love them by doing things that are important to them. Make a daily commitment to try and make the relationship better. Just showing that you are putting in effort can work wonders.
  • Envision a healthy future together: Think about and talk about your future as a couple. Set short-term goals such as things you would like to do within the next few months. Set long-term goals such as things that will take longer to achieve – perhaps a year or more.

Join Dunn Swanson and Rader this Wednesday, Sept. 2, at 12:30 p.m. CDT. To register, select the session listed in the Upcoming Events section at Information about access to a unique Zoom room will be emailed to registered participants prior to each program.

Other Resources

Iowa Concern, offered by ISU Extension and Outreach, provides confidential access to stress counselors and an attorney for legal education, as well as information and referral services for a wide variety of topics. With a toll-free phone number, live chat capabilities and a website, Iowa Concern services are available 24 hours a day, seven days per week at no charge. To reach Iowa Concern, call 800-447-1985; language interpretation services are available. Or, visit the website,, to live chat with a stress counselor one-on-one in a secure environment. Or email an expert regarding legal, finance, stress, or crisis and disaster issues.

211 is a free, comprehensive information and referral line linking Iowa residents to health and human service programs, community services, disaster services and governmental programs. This service is collaborating with the Iowa Department of Public Health to provide confidential assistance, stress counseling, education and referral services related to COVID-19 concerns.

Photo credit: Daxiao Productions/

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