Because of the pandemic, many people are sheltering in place, whether by order from their state or local government or as a way to support essential workers during this stressful time. As a result, couples are spending more time together than ever. This presents a unique opportunity to reconnect, particularly for couples who are usually too busy to get quality time. Yet with that opportunity also comes more opportunities for miscommunication, disagreement, and frustration. The little habits that you can usually look past may be glaring when you’re faced with them hour after hour. Not to mention, everyone is feeling the stress, fear, and uncertainty of these times, which may only amplify any emotions that come up.
Given these unique circumstances, we wanted to help couples to set themselves up for success.
Look for the Positive
Renowned relationship researcher John Gottman tells us that healthy couples have a good ratio of good comments and thoughts about their partner to negative ones — namely, five to one. During quarantine, focus on the positive ways your partner impacts your life, rather than obsessing about the little things that get under your skin. Pay attention to the ways they make your life easier, and express gratitude for that. Even something as small as making the first pot of coffee in the morning is worthy of appreciation, and you both will be better for it.
While you are being positive about our partner, look for opportunities to be positive about the circumstances as well. It can be overwhelming and stressful to focus on the fear many are experiencing about their health, their employment, and their community. Do your best to help create a positive environment by practicing gratitude for what you do have and reducing the amount of media you consume.
Allow Space for All Feelings
Both you and your partner may be feeling a variety of emotions, from worry to sadness to anger to joy. Make sure you both have space to feel whatever it is you feel. Don’t shame, guilt, or criticize your partner when they express that they are stressed. This is a normal reaction to the circumstances, and the more room you allow these things to come up, the stronger your connection will be. Support each other as you navigate these confusing and uncertain times.
Find New Ways to Connect
Necessity is the mother of invention, and finding new things to do with your partner is certainly necessary at this point. You may have certain activities you always do together, whether you love playing board games or share the same favorite TV show, but there are only so many rounds you can play and episodes you can watch before it gets boring.
This is a great opportunity to try something new. Maybe there is a skill you both would like to learn that you can take an online class in, or a dish you always order in restaurants that you’d love to be able to make at home. Maybe this is your chance to redecorate your house together, start a new workout routine, or collaborate on writing a song. Whatever it is, this could be a wonderful way to find a new type of intimacy.
Give Each Other Space
As much as you love your partner, being with only them for an extended period of time is going to result in some tension for even the healthiest partnerships. Make sure to give your partner and yourself opportunities to be alone. Even if you are working with limited space, you can still be intentional about giving them some alone time. For example, you could go for a walk while they spend some time meditating and journaling, or they can sit in the other room while you catch up with your friends. Autonomy is essential in any partnership, and giving your beloved some independent time is a great way to allow both of you to reconnect with yourselves and come back together calmer and able to better appreciate each other’s presence.
Take Care of Yourself
Prioritizing self-care makes you a better partner. If your partner is really struggling, you might be putting their needs before your own, but this is a recipe for resentment. Make sure that you are getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, eating enough, and caring for your mental and emotional health. Following a routine is a great way to reduce stress and create a sense of predictability in these uncertain times.
Also make sure that neither of you is solely dependent on the other for emotional support. Reach out to your network of loved ones to talk rather than only turning to your partner as to reduce the amount of stress on your relationship. If you are really struggling, you may benefit from speaking with one of our skilled therapists in Palatine. Whether you’re looking for individual or couples therapy in Palatine, we can help through our secure online counseling services. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.