10 Tips To Make Your Relationship Last During Quarantine
“…the high stress the pandemic causes within the household can lead couples to responding irrationally, especially while being sheltered together for extended periods of time.”
– Family Support Services
I heard an interesting statistic on a podcast. Divorce rates “skyrocket” after times of “long exposure” to one’s spouse. CNN reports that in the UK the search term “I want a divorce” increased 230% after the Christmas holidays. Bustle reports that divorce filing in China have already increased now that COVID-19 infections have dropped and there is speculation that the United States may follow suit.
For those of us who want our relationship to last through this pandemic, there are some easy things we can do to prioritize the health of our relationships.
Watch the video if you are interested or continue to read the post if your prefer reading about the ten tips! What I say will be similar but not exactly the same.
No matter how much you love your spouse, partner, or family, too much time together can lead to more conflict. Also, not being able to leave the house, whether you are self quarantining or under shelter at home/stay at home orders in your state, can make everyone feel more on edge.
We are all worried about our health or the health of our loved ones. Fear and concern about the coronavirus are like the static white noise behind all of our thoughts right now.
Here are some ways to not fight constantly
with your loved ones!
Make Time For Alone Time
Whether you are spending more time at home with your spouse or partner, significant others, kids, extended family, roommates, friends, whomever you are sharing your space with needs a break from you. You also need a break from them! We all live in different homes but whether you are in a 1 bedroom apartment or a huge 30 rooms mansion, physically take time apart.
If you are working from home in different rooms you might feel like that is enough time apart. If it is, great! If it’s not, spend some alone time on self care: take a bath, go for a jog, do some back yard yoga, take the dog around the block, just give yourself some space. Even if you don’t think you need it, it’s better to start doing it before you are fighting about every little thing. Encourage your partner to also take some time for alone time.
Respect Work Time
If one or both of you are working from home, respect work time. When you’re at home, it can be too easy to ask questions of your spouse, pop in to see if they want lunch, but letting each other have space to do work is very important. For everyone who does not usually work from home, there’s a learning curve involved in structuring work time.
Also, respect your own work time! Keep strong boundaries around your work and home time. Be sure to stop working at the usual time and don’t start doing the dishes as a way to procrastinate from some work activities you don’t want to do.
Make Your Couple Time Quality Time
When you are constantly in each other’s spaces it can feel like you’re already spending a lot of time together. It’s important to make intentional quality time together. If you usually have a date night, continue to do so at home! Make dinner and watch with no television on, watch a movie and discuss it, whatever you usually do out of the house for date night, try to modify it to fit into staying home. Just like always, it is important to have time where you are not staring at your phone, distracted my television, or paying attention to the kids. While you can’t physically separate yourself from your kids if you are sheltering at home, you can still do something like setting them up in front of a movie while you have an adults only dinner in the other room.
Be Inquisitive Not Accusatory
Everyone is a little on edge right now. It can be much easier than usual to become irritated and lose your temper. If your family member does something that annoys you, try to be inquisitive – meaning ask questions, try to understand the motivation, rather than becoming angry and blaming. Come at it really wanting to understand why they are acting the way they are or saying what they are saying.
Taking steps to be more tolerant can only help your relationship!
The one exception to this is unacceptable behavior. This does not apply to emotional, psychological, or physically abusive behavior.
If you are living in an area where you can get outside, do it! If you spend too much time inside, the walls feel like they will start closing in. While not every city and state allows for outside time and not everyone has a balcony or yard, if you are able to get some sunlight and fresh air even for just a few minutes it will help your attitude immensely.
This can also be paired with your intentional alone time. I took just an hour to sit in a chair on my back deck and listen to a podcast while soaking in the sun. It helped my attitude quite a bit! Go for a jog, a walk, sit in the sun, do whatever you are able to do for some fresh air and sun.
Invest In Your Relationship
This goes hand-in-hand with quality time but it is not the same thing. Investing in the relationship takes quality time a step further. Make an effort to really listen to each other, to tune into your partner’s emotions. Support them during the times when they are more worried or scared, encourage them. If you have thought about trying something new as a couple, now is a great time to do some online yoga together or start playing a new video game. If you’ve thought about doing a hobby together, do it now! Make the time to have that quality time and it will continue to benefit the relationship even when everything is “back to normal.”
Stay In Touch With Your Stress
Being mindful about what is going on in our mind and body is even more important now than it is normally. If you are feeling overwhelmed, you are more inclined to be short tempered but if you are aware that you are overwhelmed you are less likely to take that out on your spouse. Don’t be afraid to say “I’m feeling very irritable right now, I think this is a good time for me to go have some alone time.” or “I know it’s not your fault, I’m just very easily annoyed right now so I’m not at my best.” Do a body scan once or twice a day. If you are sitting in an office chair you are not used to or working in a different space than usual, it’s possible you are having some physical pain. We tend to be more easily irritated when we are in physical pain.
Say What You Need
It’s impossible to read your significant other’s mind, even under the best of circumstances. Now is not the time to try. The same is true for us, we need to ask for what we need and be clear about it. If you need alone time, say so. If you are feeling stressed, tell your spouse. If you are scared about your health, talk about it. Tell you partner what you need so that they have the opportunity to meet that need. It’s ok if you don’t know what you need, as long as you are being open and honest. If you follow all these steps, you are much more likely to know what you need because you will be taking care of your physical and psychological health!
Self Care Even Harder Than Usual
Self care becomes even more important in times of stress. Don’t skimp on the self care because your schedule and routine are thrown off. If you usually go to a yoga class, do online yoga. If you typically have a girls’ night, get everyone together on Zoom or another online platform. If you usually listen to music on your commute, listen to some music at the beginning of your day. Whatever you normally do, make sure to do it. This is a great time to add in additional self care too, whether it’s an extra 15 minutes of meditation or another cardio session a week, self care is key.
Remind yourself that we are all scared. We are all anxious. No one is sure what to expect. Everyone has elderly relatives or friends they are concerned about. Most of us have friends who are essential workers or we are essential workers ourselves. It’s more difficult than ever to be at our best, so be tolerant if your significant other is not at theirs. Be tolerant of yourself as well. Right now we are surviving and it is not until later that we can truly begin to thrive again.
Don’t Be Afraid To Seek Professional Help
Bonus: If you are having an especially hard time, don’t be afraid to seek out a counselor or therapist. Many therapists are doing online sessions right now and therapy does not have to be a huge commitment. You might need just 2-3 sessions to work through some of your stress and fears, or just to vent. We are here to help, don’t be afraid to let us! If you find a therapist in your area, you have the option of seeing them in person when this is over.
Stacey Aldridge, LCSW
Stacey is a therapist in private practice and the owner of Inspired Happiness Therapy and Wellness in Ridgeland, MS. If you are in the state of Mississippi and are interested in seeing Stacey for therapy, please visit the Appointments page.
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