Is your relationship feeling some quarantined-related strain?
At this point you’re probably feeling like days and weeks are being blurred, your weeks are highlighted by situations rather than days – your dog has too much energy, you’ve baked everything in that recipe book, you’ve walked everywhere you can everyday…and your partner just left a wet towel on the bed again. You’re ready to scream at them, but then you remembered the hours they’ve been working every day, or how their company might furlough them, or that weird headache they’ve been having for the past three weeks. So instead you hold it in and try to forget about it, only to later blow up when they’re playing Candy Crush and you doing the dishes.
Being cooped up inside with your significant other for weeks and months can leave even the most rock-solid couples straining the limits of their love. This is probably the case in most relationships, and those little cracks, are starting to widen because of the stress.
Regardless of the issues, you had before, this pandemic has definitely turned your usual routines upside down. Change is hard, change during a lockdown when things are even more repetitive and anxiety-induced than ever is even harder. These feelings can overpower the feelings of love and generosity. If you’re fighting with your partner more than ever, or resentments simmering for longer, now that you are not alone. But also know there are a few ways you can do to strengthen your relationships during the lockdown. Hopefully, this lockdown will be over in the next few months and we can go back to some normalcy. But in the meantime here are a few things you can start doing:
Find space…however you can
Couples need to make space for one another, healthy couples thrive on the dual dynamic of emotional dependency and individuality. Creating some distance plays an important role in relationships, and not just during this lockdown but generally.
Right now, creating some distance in the same house is hard. It’s also impossible to yearn for someone when they’re only a few feet away from you. But, you can create some space between the two of you, even if it’s an apartment room.
You can create some space between you two by doing simple things, like wearing headphones and listening to your type of music. Watching your own separate TV shows is creating space. Cooking while your partner finishes off their workday is space. Going for a drive alone or a walk alone, is space. What the heck even jerking off is space! This little distance helps deal with your stress and gives you the time to spend on understanding your emotions instead of blowing up at those close to you.
Keep in mind that creating this space for you is important, but you also need to give that space to your partner too and they might not be at the same times either! What might help is at the beginning of the day or week, is to talk through with your partner when you want some space and when they also want that space.
Creating space for yourself is important but remember to set some time aside just for the two of you. It’s especially hard at the moment where the kitchen for instance is the family dining area, your office, be a partner and parent all from the kitchen. Even if you’re in multiple rooms for these activities because there’s no shift in physical environments it can be confusing for the brain, which can lead to more stress or blowing up at your partner. Create routines to make it feel somewhat normal. Something you can do to be connected with your parent is set sometime every day, even if it’s just an hour, that you both enjoy doing together and stick to it – even if it’s as simple as watching a TV show together that you both enjoy.
Skip the small talk
Don’t do the usual small talk. On a normal day, you could do the small talk and ask how their day went and what they did, but it’s a bit pointless trying to do that in the current circumstances. If you’re thinking of small talk stuff to talk about with your partner then you’re not digging deep enough.
There’s always something new you can learn about your partner, and if you’re struggling to think about what to talk about then why not try something different – perhaps a little corny at some points – to learn something new about them or to talk about things other than the usual small talk, like buying a couples game that is relatively inexpensive like Our Moments for less than £15. Pick a card at random to start thought-provoking conversations with each other.
Don’t keep it to yourself
Any issues you have between the two of you will always be solved by any of the above, whilst being stuck with each other in the same space can take a strain, and getting through it is going to take some effort. But talk to each other about the issues or emotions you are feeling to your partner and see if it helps to work on solutions to make those feelings better. If that doesn’t work then consider going to therapy. Talking to someone else might with both of you present help to elevate the stress but if you commit to each other on working on these issues then it will help take the relationship to a better position.
Lastly, it’s nice to make a date night once in a while with each other. Obviously, we can’t do the normal things we would like to on a date night, but why not use this time to try something new and different. Experiment with different ways to connect with each other. Some of these things might seem cheesy or corny, but doing these things together will help go a long way!