Survival Tips to Keep Your Relationship Alive During COVID-19
By: Mackenzie Arnold
From getting the kids ready for school, school drop offs, working 9-5, soccer practices and dance recitals, helping the kids with homework, making dinner, and getting the kids ready for bed, it’s no wonder that couples often complain that they do not have enough quality time together. Well, luckily for us, COVID-19 brought us PLENTY of time to spend together – or are we really so lucky? Is it too much time? If you’re now finding yourself complaining of having too much quality time with your partner, don’t worry – you are not alone. COVID-19 is a difficult time for couples to navigate through and we are here to provide you with some tips on how to help your relationship thrive during this stressful, scary time.
Create Separate Space
It is okay to not be together all the time. According to Robert Levenson, a psychology professor of the Berkeley Graduate School, it is important to give yourselves some alone time to be able to “recharge” yourselves and your relationship. It is common for couples to fight more when they are cooped up together under stress. Dr. Arthur Aron, a research professor in psychology, says it can be helpful to separate yourselves during the day while you are working, doing household chores, etc. It’s a good idea to try to find separate spaces to do your work during the day, so you aren’t cramping each other’s style.
Chris Kraft, a psychologist, says that incorporating some self-care can also be great for recharging yourself and helping de-stress. Do a face mask, watch your favorite tv show, read a book, or any activity that you enjoy. Incorporating some sort of exercise into daily life is also of upmost significance right now when normal exercise like walking around your office, going to the grocery store, climbing flights of stairs in your work building, etc. have been diminished to much less frequency. Whether it be a high intensity workout, a stroll around your neighborhood, yoga, meditation, or whatever your preference may be, including exercise is always a good idea.
During this time, it is important to understand that emotions are high, and everyone reacts to stress in different ways. If your partner is having a hard time coping with the very difficult times we are in, be understanding, ask what you can do to help, help out with some of the chores you don’t normally do. Allow your partner to lean on you more now than ever if they need it! Additionally, try not to expect too much from your partner right now. We have lost a lot and they may be grieving normal life, which may make it harder for them to be on their best relationship behavior right now. So, cut them some slack and give them some time to cope.
The phrase “communication is key” is so commonly known because it is so true! This is true especially during quarantine where emotions are elevated and stressors are abundant, it is necessary to be open and honest in communication with your partner. Bundling up your emotions and holding them inside in a time like this can be detrimental to your relationship. If your partner is doing something to make you upset or there is more that they can be doing to help your relationship/family, tell them! Being upfront and honest with your partner can help avoid a heated outburst from occurring and escalating both of your stress levels even more.
A helpful tip for all relationships, not just romantic relationships during quarantine, is to use “I statements” instead of “You statements.” It is beneficial to start a statement by saying “I feel” instead of saying “you…” because “You statements” may make someone feel like they are being personally attacked. For example, instead of saying “You never want to have romantic date nights with me,” you could say something along the lines of “I would love it if we could plan some more sweet date nights together; it would mean a lot to me.”
Plan Safe, Fun Date Nights
Although the times of extravagant, fun date nights may be on hold right now, it is still important to have time set aside for amusing, quality time together (while still being safe). Barbara Rickey, MS, LPCC, suggests that you find a new show/movie to watch on a streaming service, cook a nice dinner together, have a sunset picnic in your car, play a new game, etc. Be creative and even surprise each other, says Madeline Howard, a writer for Women’s Health Magazine. Surprising one another with a cute, exciting activity to do together is one of the best ways to make your partner feel loved and special during these times.
Keep Sex in Your Schedules
Sex is known to be beneficial for your health for several reasons like improved memory, better-quality sleep, reducing stress hormone levels, burning calories, and more. Indeed, we know that sexual activity even boosts immunity – which is good news in the days of COVID-19! Regular sexual activity increase antibodies that help immune systems fight off infections better. Besides the health benefits, sexual activity is also beneficial to keeping a close, intimate relationship with your partner. Agreement, understanding, and cooperation between partners is shown to be much better and healthier after sexual activity has taken place than before. Likewise, when couples are satisfied sexually in their relationship, they are more likely to report feeling satisfied and happy with their relationship and life as a whole.
Stick to Your Routines
One of the best ways to keep yourselves in check mentally and physically during quarantine, is to set routines for yourself. According to Gigi Engle, sexologist and author of All the F*cking Mistakes: A Guide to Sex, Love, and Life, sticking to a routine can help eliminate the panic and fear that may be rising inside you. Help yourself (and your partner) by setting a time to wake up, to get your work done, to do self-care, to do household chores, to spend time together, and to go to bed. Having a normal routine will help life feel more “normal” in a time where life can see aimless and dull. This will help you both feel less stressed, increasing the quality of your relationship and time spent together.
If you and your partner are having a difficult time coping together right now, it is okay to seek help! Many psychologists and therapists are offering virtual counseling sessions and are willing to help more patients. Therapy is a great and effective way to help support relationships with ourselves and with others. It is important to recognize when you need help and it is never too late to seek help of any kind either. In addition to in-person services, there are several online resources available to you. OurRelationship.com – recently recognized as the “Best Overall” relationship counseling platform by OnlineTherapy.com – offers free or low-cost brief services to couples and has been shown to be effective in several studies. Online couple therapy is also available through Talkspace.com, Betterhelp.com, and Regain.us
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