Whether you’re holed up together or socially distanced, the coronavirus pandemic is likely making things a little, err, rocky.
The stress of living through a pandemic is putting relationships to the test.
There’s not a single one of us who isn’t dealing with a tremendous amount of stress right now. Work issues, tight living quarters, financial uncertainty, fears about the health of our loved ones, fears of getting sick ourselves. And as we all know, stress does not bring out the best in us.
So how can you keep your relationship from crumbling under the weight of these challenges? Here are seven tips to protect and keep your relationship healthy during the COVID-19 crisis.
1. Bring back date night.
Social distancing guidelines may have foiled your go-to date night plans. You can’t eat at a restaurant or catch a movie in theaters. But you can still carve out some time to connect at home. Setting aside at least an hour per week for just the two of you.
Meet up in the backyard or on the balcony. Dress in your finest if you wish, have a drink together (non-alcoholic is fine), slow dance, and play charades or a board game. Try and keep the conversation light, humorous and optimistic. This should be a time to step away from the stress of COVID-19 and reconnect with your partner.
2. Check-in with yourself…and then your partner.
Instead of, say, binging Bravo during your “me time,” use this space for self-reflection by journaling or practicing meditation. With so much going on in the world today, you need to check in on yourself, just as you’d do with someone you care about.
From there, you check in your partner every morning, especially if you’re in a shared living space. If you know at the beginning of the day that your partner is feeling anxious, then you can start the conversation of ‘How can I show up for you?’ or ‘What would be the most helpful thing for me to do (or not do) for you today?”. If we can communicate about our feelings, how those feelings can manifest into action, and what we need from our partner—we’re setting them up to succeed. Assuming what your partner is thinking, feeling, or needs (or vice versa) is a recipe for frustration when you’re in quarantine (and in general).
3. Compliment one another at least 5-10 times per day.
Deep appreciation and soulful praise is critical to the survival of any relationship, especially one in crisis, and one in close quarters. Appreciation and valuing not only show our partner that we love them, but also that each person believes in the other person—for who we each are.
4. Cut each other some slack — more than you usually would.
We’re living through a highly stressful, unsettling, anxiety-inducing time. Under these conditions, it’s difficult to present the best versions of ourselves. So be gentle on each other when tensions inevitably arise.
Find compassion for yourself and your partner when arguments come up and realize that it’s likely a normal reaction to an abnormal situation.
Don’t rush to judge the quality of your relationship right now, and continue to find ways to communicate and be vulnerable about difficult feelings. Have compassion around the fact that this is hard.
That’s not to say everyone should get a pass for all bad behavior right now. You can gently call out your partner for their snippy remark or harsh tone without escalating the incident into a bigger fight.
5. Focus on the positives.
Acknowledging that it may be “hard right now” to focus on the positives but doing so can ensure that you don’t find your partner and yourself fighting unnecessarily.
It’s really just a shift in mindset. Rather than seeing your partner’s flaws because they didn’t put the laundry in the hamper or haven’t showered, focus on ‘I’m happy we’re together’ or my partner is doing the dishes or ‘I really like that you’re keeping up on the facts about the virus.’
Figure out ways to keep more positive because we’re all absorbing negative energy right now.
6. Practice self-care together.
You may have self-care rituals that you prefer to practice solo, but also try to find some nourishing activities that you can do as a couple: meditating together in the morning, walking outside after lunch, or sipping tea and sharing a few things you’re grateful for before bed.
7. Have as much sex as possible.
Sex produces oxytocin, a bonding chemical that is essential for couple bonding in the short and long term. Generally, the more oxytocin you have circulating within yourself and your partner, the better. Few things bond us or create as much oxytocin as sex.
It is also important to remember that some people do not bond verbally in the same way their partner does; they may especially bond through sex, and the relationship benefits from that kind of bonding, too.
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