We never thought we would have to write, "Welcome to almost never being home alone."
Being in a relationship is amazing and each relationship is obviously unique, but quarantine has put everyone in unsuspecting circumstances. It is likely your relationship has been challenged by our social and political circumstances, and quarantine has strengthened or strained many relationships. Unfortunately, there was no way to prepare for spending every waking moment with a partner.
Many relationships require space while others flourish with a more “we” mentality. But, alone time is invaluable and unquestionably necessary, even if it is something as simple as a store run.
Your emotional health has never been more important. Here is what you can do to support your relationship during this challenging time.
Give Each Other Space
Have a discussion about how to give each other space. Can you spend time in separate rooms doing something you enjoy, like napping or reading? It’s nice to take a walk alone. Alone time allows for a fresh perspective and if there are children it is even more important to care for yourself during this time.
Honor How Your Partner Copes
The quarantine has caused acute stress whether you have admitted it or not, and spending endless amounts of time with your partner or family can perpetuate trying emotions. It is normal for some people to cope with logic, and others to cope with the articulation of feelings. No matter the coping strategy, the underlying feelings during this time are likely sadness, stress and worry. Instead of disagreements over coping strategies, it is much more supportive to find ways to validate your partner’s feelings and experiences.
Avoid the No Win Topics
There are no win topics in every household. Now is no time to fuss over differing opinions and if there were any problems you and your partner were working through pre-pandemic, table them. If news conferences on politics or pandemic updates create tension, it could be helpful to limit watch time to alone time. The news can be an unnecessary source of anxiety and anger. Avoid the no-win topics by all means necessary.
Negativity is a No No
Let’s face it, feeling stressed is normal considering job loss, financial stress, and increased worry about health. Negative events have three times the impact of positive and if it takes four good things to overcome one bad thing, gratitude, compassion, and nostalgia can help to remedy negative thoughts. Negativity bias can lead to expecting the worst from others, including your partner.
Couples can help each other overcome negativity biases. Do not fixate on negative thoughts. Instead of “should”ing all over yourself, it is important to focus on the lessons you have learned and apply them to the future. You can battle this negativity bias with a walk, upbeat music or dancing, and reading a good book. Discuss with your partner how you can support them in moments of negativity.
There is Always a Silver Lining
Being in survival mode makes silver linings disappear, but in many trying situations there is a silver lining. Get good at noticing the good, and suddenly your perception of challenging times will not be as diminishing and painful. You can turn to your family, your friends, a daily walk in natural surroundings, a creative outlet, or an organization project.
The go go go culture will surely keep you away from the gifts of the present moment, but slowing down will create connection and help you or your partner to realize the silver lining. Couples can help one another find and experience the silver lining.