While some do enjoy the experience of sheltering in place with loved ones, many of us struggle to remain confined in one place alongside a limited circle of direct contact. This may ring especially true for couples in romantic relationships; being stuck at home with your partner might earth up a lot of relationship challenges that you swept under the pre-coronavirus rug.
Now that you two have no choice but to stay in together, these issues can start to feel glaring – and unavoidable. If you're wondering whether your relationship will survive the stress and unique circumstances of coronavirus, know that you can choose to work together, and emerge stronger than ever. Here are ways to focus on the health of your relationship during this difficult time.
Outline your individual and shared routines
Having a daily schedule can keep things feeling centered, grounded, and relatively normal. You may wish to have both a shared and an individual routine, so that you can be fully present during your shared time and also respect each others' alone time.
Your routines might include the following:
- Meditating together before you start your day
- Making breakfast alone; pausing to eat lunch together
- Taking 2-3 walks at set times throughout the day; you may wish to do one together and one separately, for example
- Taking turns choosing films or shows to watch; it could be a combination of new releases or old favorites you want to share with each other
Have a weekly time on your calendar to check in with each other
Schedule a set time for you both to communicate with each other about your anxiety, fear, pain, sadness, frustration, and anger about the uncertainty of this time.
This is also a good time to communicate how you’d like to support each other. Ask each other questions like:
- What worked this week in the way we supported each other?
- How would you like me to support you better next week?
- What is especially stressing you out right now? Is there any way I can help shoulder that burden?
Communicate your needs for space and alone time
Share details about the amount of space that you need from each other, and when you need it.
Remember that your partner is not a mind reader; therefore you have to let them know when you want and need space! Stick with kind, straight-forward requests, like "I appreciate the walk we took together yesterday. This afternoon, I’ll like some alone time to focus on myself."
Be mindful of how you each process stress and anxiety
We all deal with stress and anxiety differently. Some of us go into overdrive when we're anxious; others freeze up. You might even do a little of both.
It's important to remain mindful, compassionate, and open about the ways in which you and your partner both handle anxiety.
Be intentional about recognizing when anxiety shows up; and communicate with each other what the anxiety is connected to.
Practice active listening and withhold judgment on how you are, or your partner is, dealing with the anxiety.
Communicate your fears and hopes with each other
Change inevitably emerges from times of chaos; these transitions stir feelings of both fear and hope. Sharing what comes up for you on both ends of the spectrum can be a relief.
Ask yourself and your partner meaningful questions like:
- What’s your greatest fear about this time of uncertainty?
- What’s your hope for our relationship in this difficult time?
- What kind of silver linings are you noticing for the future?
Be kind and patient with each other
The challenges that we face – as coronavirus continues to wage war on our lives physically, mentally, emotionally, financially and spiritually – are countless.
At the end of the day, creating a secure space for each other to weather the uncertainty of this time requires kindness and patience for yourself and your partner. Remember to nourish your relationship by being kind, patient, and compassionate with each other.