I think it’s safe to say the strain that the Coronavirus is putting on our lives is immense. From reading the Facebook statuses that a lot of my friends have posted I know it’s affecting most relationships in one way or another. And it seems that one of the biggest concerns people have is that their relationship isn’t going to make it.
Believe it or not, it makes perfect sense to feel like you’re struggling in your relationship right now. I mean, we’re stuck inside our homes, being forced to spend more time together than ever before, and we’re relying on our partners for almost all of our social support because we can’t see our family or friends. We’re balancing new responsibilities like working from home, home-schooling or housekeeping. It’s a lot of change all at once. But at the same time, some people feel guilty acknowledging they have relationship worries because it seems like there are much bigger issues to worry about.
It’s OK to admit that your relationship is being affected by the Coronavirus crisis, though. So why not give some of my tips for supporting your relationship during these tough times a try? After all, you’ve got nothing to lose …
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
Looking after your relationship has to start with looking after yourself. It’s simply too much to expect your partner to be your sole source of stress relief. Here are some of my favourite forms of self-care during this difficult time:
Allow yourself to feel your feelings — It’s normal to feel a whole range of different emotions right now. I for one often wake up feeling happy and ready to face the day ahead, but an hour or two later I might read a text from a loved one or see a news article that tugs at my heartstrings, and from then on I become an emotional wreck. But it’s OK. When you give yourself permission to feel the full range of your emotions and validate that what you’re feeling makes sense, emotions dissipate much faster.
Keep a journal — Spend 5 to 10 minutes each day writing down your thoughts and feelings in a journal. I find writing them down helps my mental health a lot. And in years to come, I’ll be able to look back on my words and remember a time when things were tough, but I sure as hell managed to get through.
Meditate — Meditation is one of the absolute best things you can do for your mental health. And you can find loads of videos on YouTube to help you with this.
Move your body — The rush of endorphins you get from exercise can be invaluable for managing stress, improving your mood and even boosting your immunity. And if you can safely go outside while you exercise, that’s even better!
Seek other sources of connection — Reach out to friends and relatives when you feel like you’re struggling. But without your partner by your side. I’ve found that since joining in our family quiz night’s on Zoom every Monday and Friday night I’ve handled my emotions a lot better than I was doing before. Seeing a friendly face or two every now and then is brilliant for boosting your mood!
MAKE A PLAN
Whether you recently met and decided to go all out and self-isolate together or you’ve been living together for years, it’s important to sit down with your partner to discuss everything that’s on your plate and make a plan for how you’re going to handle it as a team. Create a shared calendar with all of your tasks and responsibilities, and carve out specific times for when you’re going to do them.
I recommend having a quick weekly meeting every Sunday to anticipate the week ahead — schedule and map out as much as you can. I also recommend a brief meeting at the end of each day to discuss the plan for the next day. There are so many things that we can’t control right now, but it can feel good to have a plan for the things we can control.
CHECK-IN WITH EACH OTHER DAILY
Planning for the next day is one thing, but it is also important to remember that your partner is not a robot and probably experiencing the same range of emotions that you are. It can be useful to stop and ask each other questions like:
- What was your day like today?
- What sorts of feelings are coming up for you right now?
- Are there any ways I can support you or be a better partner?
Even if you don’t currently live with your partner, it’s still a good idea to check in with them daily. It lets them know you’re thinking of them during all this uncertainty.
BE INTENTIONAL ABOUT TIME SPENT TOGETHER
You’re probably spending more time together than ever before. As much as you love your partner, this can quickly lead to tension and frustration. So be sure to set yourself some healthy boundaries:
- If you’re both currently working from home, it’s important to try and carve out separate workspaces. If you can close a door between the two of you, that’s brilliant. If not, consider sticking in your headphones and listening to some of your favourite tunes while you work so you don’t get distracted by your partner.
- Try to give each other space during the day. If you can, limit your verbal communication. Try texting like you would if you were out at work instead. This will give you some sort of normality in an otherwise unusual time.
- It’s normal to feel like you need alone time. Be creative about how you can achieve this. For example, maybe you can trade off taking the morning shift with the kids so you give each other the chance to lie in bed alone for a few precious moments.
- Be creative with date nights. Sticking to (or starting) a date night tradition can bring some much-needed joy and anticipation into your relationship. Try visiting a museum online, reading a book to each other or cooking an elaborate meal together. If you don’t happen to live with your significant other, why not try out some of my virtual dating ideas? You’d be surprised at how much you can do together, despite not being in the same room!