If your country has gone in full lockdown mode, you’re probably fretting about your relationship. You’re wondering how you’re going to be able to spend all that time with them without going insane. This is a valid fear considering the fact that since the decree for self-isolation, there has been an “unprecedented” spike in divorces in some districts of Xi’an, capital of Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province. Speaking
Couples & Family Therapist, Author Dr. Kalanit Ben-Ari, a couples’ therapist with over 15 years of experience, revealed that couples living in extremely close quarters may start to feel trapped and plagued by feelings of anxiety. As such, these emotions result in both parties feeling resentful and defensive, and, coupled with cabin fever, this is a recipe for relationship disaster.
Love at a time of coronavirus
Additionally, if you aren’t living with your partner, you may be worried that your relationship won’t survive suddenly becoming a long-distance one. Either way, it’s important to know that a pandemic doesn’t mean a reintroduction to singlehood. The fact is, you can still help to flatten the curve and maintain the health and happiness of your relationship.
Relationship advice for self-isolation
Couples staying together
A healthy relationship has one component at its core – healthy and open communication.
We’re all battling with the unknown at this time, and this can arouse feelings of fear, anger, sadness, and pain. With that said, it’s important for couples to be able to express their fears.
That said, it’s important that when we find ourselves venting to our partners, we do so in a respectable manner that won’t lead to an intense argument. Feel free to share your feelings with one another, without being judgmental or critical, and do your best to stop using words like “you” and avoid statements like “you’re exaggerating,” or “you’re acting crazy.”
“One of the biggest communication mistakes couples make is to talk about their partner in a harsh and direct manner, saying ‘you do/you don’t/you are’, rather than speaking about themselves and what they really want (for example: “I feel anxious about something right now/I need assurance that this will be ok”)” explains Dr. Ben-Ari, “This requires a level of honesty, vulnerability, and tact, but it will help to maintain a healthy and happy relationship.”
2. Carve out some time – for yourself
Just because you’re stuck under the same roof, doesn’t mean that you need to spend every second together. Self-care is just as important, and you need to set aside some time so that you can relax and rebalance, letting go of any irritation that may be building up.
Self-care can take the form of a home workout, a long warm bath, sitting quietly in a corner, putting on headphones, mediating, or even finishing that Call of Duty game. Do whatever you want but just make sure you’re doing it alone.
3. Keep it light
Just because it’s trending news doesn’t mean that you should be talking about COVID-19 at every turn. Yes, it’s important to keep up to date with the WHO’s guidelines and recommendations, but there is a limit.
Instead of getting all worked up over the unknown, why don’t you keep it light by catching up on your favorite Netflix show or by redecorating the house? Can you even have a dance party in the lounge or try to master his mum’s favorite recipe? Additionally, for couples that are both working from home, you can get yourselves an imaginary co-worker to blame things on.
4. Get intimate
New York City’s public health department sent out a notice, specifically outlining how one could practice safe sex while preventing the spread of COVID-19. So if you are worried about being abstinent whilst living with your partner, you’ll be happy to know that you can still enjoy intimacy. In fact, you can even use this time to reconnect physically with your partner.
On the other hand, as stress can affect libido, it’s important not to nag or shame your partner into sex if they’re not feeling up to it as this will only result in feelings of rejection and blame. Just do your best to understand.
5. Acts of kindness
Yes, your partner is driving you insane, but it’s important not to take them for granted. Try random acts of kindness such as making them tea in bed, cooking their favorite meal, or even leaving them messages around the house.
This will help your partner feel appreciated and ease any lingering tension in the house. Remember, it’s the little things.
6. Setting a schedule
A lot of us rely on our schedules to provide a sense of stability. Now, with all of that disrupted, we may find ourselves lost and more irritable. That said, creating a structured plan for the day with your partner can help restore a sense of normalcy.
Assigning roles and responsibilities for each day can make your time at home pass more quickly, and it can also minimize conflicts.
7. Stay in touch with the outside world
Your partner doesn’t have to be your only source of connection. With apps such as HouseParty, FaceTime, and Whatsapp, you can still stay in touch with your family members and friends. Regardless of your relationship status, it’s important to still maintain outside relationships.
If you feel unsafe
If unfortunately, you are stuck in the house with an abusive spouse, it’s important to know that no lockdown or quarantine is more important than your health. Police and other emergency response services are operating as normal, and if you are worried about your safety, you should not hesitate to call the authorities immediately.
Couples in a long-distance relationship
1. Watch your digital tone
As mentioned, good communication is at the heart of every healthy relationship. Now with you spending more time away from your partner, it’s important that you maintain a healthy communication balance.
Everyone has their preferences when it comes to chatting online; some people reply late, some overuse memes and GIFs. It’s important that you clarify your likes and dislikes and that you do your best not to get into a tiff over a misread text message.
2. (Digital) date nights are still important
There’s no reason as to why you can’t get dressed up, and sit across a screen, sharing a glass of your favorite wine. Keeping up with date nights adds a sense of normalcy that can bring you two closer together. Don’t let absence define your relationship. Rather than moaning about how much you miss each other, why don’t you make a list of the things you’re looking forward to doing post-lockdown, be it travel destinations or restaurant hotspots?
Don’t just stop on date night. You can place your phone in a good spot in the house and cook together, or watch your favorite movie.
Additionally, you can also write them a physical letter or send them an unprompted gift as both will no doubt be well-received.
3. Try cybersex
It’s interesting times and people are finding new and creative ways to cater to their needs, as well as those of their partners.
Before delving into Skype sex, make sure that you’re comfortable and that you discuss boundaries. There are various forms of long-distance intimacy, ranging from texts, to voice notes to a simple phone call. Find out what you’re comfortable with and see what happens.
In regards to texting, especially images, don’t feel pressured to include your face or your entire body. You can wear clothing as well if you prefer, leaving much to your partner’s imagination.
The bottom line
No matter how long you’ve been staying together, or how long you love each other, you and your partner are definitely going to run into conflict. It’s a stressful and uncertain time, so of course, you’re going to be more aggravated than usual. With that said, it’s important to remember that none of this will last forever. You’re both doing your part to protect everyone’s health. So, forget the unnecessary drama and look forward to the good times you’ll get to enjoy in the future.
Image Credit: Transport Executive