Living through a pandemic has changed every aspect of our lives. There can be no doubt that COVID-19 has put many things to the test: our patience, our jobs, and even our relationships. With so much in flux, the only thing we can really do is take it one day at a time. But while we’re trying to manage working from home, household responsibilities, and raising a family, it’s critically important that we don’t forget to put our relationship in that precious shortlist. The good news is that even as a pandemic rages around us, there is plenty that you can do to strengthen your relationship during COVID.
Self-care is always important, but it has probably never been more crucial than now. With so much going on in the world, and quite possibly in your own home, remember to make time for yourself. Self-care, at its core, means taking care of your self in any capacity. That includes eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and maybe even throwing in a bit of physical activity or meditation.
Anyone who works from home can tell you that your work life can and will bleed into your home life despite your best efforts. But immersing yourself in work and answering emails at the dinner table doesn’t work for anyone. Straddling your career and home life without drawing a line in the sand will eventually take its toll on you and your relationships. To prevent working from creeping into your time that should be reserved for your loved ones, be sure to set boundaries and stick to them. Establish clearly defined working hours (and maybe even a workspace), and when your day over close the door (proverbial or literal), and walk away. Your relationship’s strength depends on your ability to shut it off and move on at that end of the day.
Exercising can be a powerful way to reduce stress. But if your usual haunts are still closed (i.e., gyms, yoga studios), try taking a walk, going for a run, or biking, and don’t forget to grab your S.O. Spending some time together where you can talk and connect can work wonders to strengthen your relationship.
Whether the kids are home, heading back to school, or moved back home from college, each situation comes with its own unique set of challenges. Most likely, you and your partner are trying to balance working from home and managing a family. To say that a lot is going on is probably an understatement. However, when one partner feels like they are tasked with the lion’s share of the responsibilities, that could be a recipe for disaster. Devise a plan with your S.O. to share household and parenting duties, whether it’s supervising activities, breaking up fights, meal prep, or homework. Teamwork makes the dream work, (in this case it will help strengthen your relationship during COVID), and you’ll probably emerge from this pandemic much stronger.
While you may not be able to physically go out and about with other friends or family members, you shouldn’t rely solely on your S.O. for your emotional support. Any relationship can buckle under that kind of strain and emotional stress, pandemic or not. Remember that you have friends and family that are still just a phone call or video chat away. Keeping the lines of communication open with them is not only good for your relationship, but it could check off a box on your self-care list as well.
While your date nights might look a bit different at the moment, it is essential to fit them in whenever possible. Carve out a Friday night to watch a movie together, set aside one night a week to make a meal together, or have coffee on the front porch. Date night during a pandemic doesn’t have to be earth-shattering; what’s important is that you’re spending quality time together focused only on each other.
Clear and precise communication will most certainly help strengthen your relationship during COVID. Your partner can’t possibly read your mind, and there is no way for them to meet your needs if they have no idea what your needs are in the first place. Communicating your needs to your partner and asking for help is crucial to your relationship’s overall health, quarantined or not.
While you’re undoubtedly doing almost everything with your partner in this extended period of forced togetherness, it’s also essential to spend some time apart; however, you can. Try to spend some time in separate spaces or doing independent activities. A little time away will be good for everyone.
As lockdowns and quarantines dragged on from weeks into months, many people kick-started a new hobby to pass the time. Gardening and baking have skyrocketed during recent months, and research shows that the benefit of doing these things can go far beyond finding a cure for boredom or proving to yourself that you can self-sustain. In a research study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (conducted well before Covid-19,) Stony Brook University professor, Arthur Aron, Ph.D., found that when couples participated in new and challenging activities, each one feels a sense of accomplishment and that in turn strengthens the bond in their relationship. The fact is, feeling good about yourself, will most certainly spill over into feeling good about your relationship.
After a few months under the same roof day in day out, even the little things can feel “bigger” than usual. However, anger never solves anything, this is particularly true as a worldwide pandemic rages on, and emotions are running higher than usual. No matter how strong you think your mate is, remember that they could be feeling the stress of the situation just as you are. When any situation reaches a fever-pitch, try to take a step back and put yourself in their shoes, to avoid the argument or at the very least to manage the fall-out.
We are living through extraordinary times, faced with situations that no one really knows how to navigate. To strengthen your relationship during COVID, try to make the most of your time together, keep the lines of communication open, and don’t forget to take care of yourself. When tempers are flaring, remember to give your partner some grace, this is hard for everyone. And when it feels like your life has been upended, and you’re running on fumes, just remember to hold on to the good stuff.
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