By now, we are all aware that voluntary social distancing is essential to reducing Covid-19’s spread. Lying low for a little while in the grand scheme of things is a small concession to make for the improved protection of everyone, although it will undoubtedly present challenges.
We face major changes to the everyday routines of our lives as businesses, schools, and universities shift towards online operations and travel plans are cancelled. For many couples, togetherness alternates organically with separateness, as they say goodbye to one another in the morning and reconnect in the evening. When this pattern is broken, it shows us how much we rely on cycles of closeness and distance to keep our relationships stable and safe.
Rom-coms and romantic novels tell us that if we love each other, we should want to be together all the time. However, our experiences teach us that togetherness and separateness are necessary for us to be able to enhance and grow in our relationships.
With what is going on in the world right now, we will experience a wide range of responses to stress and uncertainty. However, the chances that you and your other half will cope with the pandemic in the same way are quite slim. Different coping methods can enhance how a couple responds to a situation. For example, the more concerned partner will ensure everyone is doing what they need t o do in order to stay safe and healthy, while the grounded one can bring a sense of fun or humour to bring light to the situation.
It can be extremely tough living under the same roof for days – or possibly weeks. That is why we have suggested some methods to keep your relationship healthy whilst staying at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19…
To develop a happy and safe romantic relationship, take care of yourself first. It can be very hard to relate kindly and respectfully to our partner if we don’t practise basic self-care. Emotions are bodily states, so taking care of your body is a powerful way of maintaining your relationship. During the pandemic, make sure to get back to the fundamentals:
- Eat healthy foods (including fruit and vegetables)
- Get some form of exercise (following home gym tutorials)
- Get plenty of sleep each night
- Limit the amount of alcohol you consume each week
Be Apart Together
You may love someone as well as need some space from them. Let go of the idea that if you don’t spend time in a romantic bubble, that you are doomed. Take space when you need it and accept that your other half may need their space at different times. For example, if you are both working from home during the pandemic, work in separate rooms and meet for lunch in the kitchen. These simple steps will make sure you are still spending time with your loved one, but you are giving them that time alone to focus on other things – as irritation can lead us to snap at one and other and can cause arguments.
Mental Health Challenges
It makes sense to expect a worsening of symptoms during this period of upheaval for those of us with pre-existing mental health problems like anxiety and depression (and for those of us who want to support them). Knowing that mental health can make a huge impact during this uncertain time, we can use these prompts to develop an emotional first aid plan, such as ‘When my symptoms worsen, something my partner can do to support me is….’ or ‘When my partner’s symptoms worsen, something that helps me feel more patient is…’
Know that if you have had mental health issues before, do not forget your pain is justified. Getting some respect for yourself will help you tap into your resilience.
You can be encouraged to move away for the sake of your relationship by realising that emotions are infectious. That is very different from withdrawal or retreat. Consider saying something like, “I feel really cranky at the moment. I’m too fond of us to risk taking my cold feelings out on you. I’m going to move away for a moment. “Use the space to change from madness to calmness. Here are two strategies which may help…
- Write about what’s happening between you and your partner from the perspective of a neutral third party who has both of your best interests at heart.
- Write down three things you are grateful for, this can help improve mood.
Remember, it is important to talk to your loved one if things are getting too stressful. It’s okay to be on each other’s nerves, as it means you both need some space from each other – not that things aren’t working and you need to take drastic measures. Communication is key – so talk to your other half if you are starting to feel the pressure or just need a hug and remember, be gentle with yourself and your partner over the coming days and weeks.
Be safe everyone!