Couple in QuarantineThe global coronavirus pandemic has brought couples together in ways they never imagined. Of course, many are dealing with the bumps and snags that come from constantly sharing a living space. Even if you’ve been together years, sheltering in place can shift or even upend your daily reality. Fortunately, extended social distancing doesn’t have to break your relationship. Experts offer some great tips to help your relationship survive and thrive during quarantine.

Social Distancing and Relationship Stressors

Time’s Belinda Luscombe describes how sheltering in place has increased anxiety for many families. She cites the Gottman Institute’s Julie Schwartz Gottman, who reveals that people in relationships without healthy coping mechanisms can find social distancing very stressful. Financial difficulties, fears of contracting the virus, and disrupted daily routines can wreak havoc, causing these relationships can suffer significantly. Divorce rates trended upward in China in the weeks after shelter-in-place measures ended. Domestic violence incidents are on the rise in the United States.

Even if your relationship was healthy before the lockdowns, being together in the same space 24 hours a day can still present challenges. Habits that were only mildly annoying before could drive you up a wall now. Maybe you think that your partner shouts way too much while playing Call of Duty. Perhaps you’ve been accused of chewing too loudly or using too much toilet paper. Social distancing plus stressors add up, causing a pressure-cooker effect that can put strains on the best of relationships.

Weathering the Storm Together

As problems present themselves, couples and relationship experts are stepping forward to offer solutions. During this time, we may be more susceptible to information overload with the constant stream of COVID-19 news. The Mayo Clinic discusses how this can cause even more stress, so encourage each other to take regular breaks from news media consumption. Berkeley News’ Yasmin Anwar shares more tips from University of California therapists, psychologists, and professors:

  • Treat yourselves and each other with kindness.
  • Let yourselves have time and space to grieve.
  • Don’t shy away from the hard stuff: Tackle the difficult issues.
  • Allow yourselves to be vulnerable.

Besides being mindful of interpersonal dynamics, shifting your approach can also help with the logistics of running your household. You may need to change your usual roles and routines during this time, picking up new responsibilities and letting go of others. With this in mind, be sure to divide the housework in an equitable and logical manner. Sharing the load in a way that makes sense ensures that neither partner feels overburdened.

Time Together Vs. Time Alone

When sharing a space together, establishing boundaries is important. That’s especially true when you’re spending lots of time in the same physical space. The Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center provides useful advice on defining those boundaries. If you’re working from home, be sure to set up separate workspaces, clearly communicate your “on the clock” hours, and be respectful of each other’s work times. Also, you should clearly define times and spaces for both togetherness and spending time alone. Taking time out for personal pursuits provides some valuable time to recharge, whether it’s escaping into a favorite book, painting, working out, or building your virtual dream home. At the same time, don’t forget to spend some quality fun time together. If you’re stuck for ideas, the Huffington Post’s Kelsey Borresen offers several suggestions: online dance lessons, arts and crafts time, card games, or throwing a dance party in your living room.

Sheltering in place is part of our new reality. This situation can feel stressful, limiting, and unnatural to us as social beings, yet productive coping mechanisms can keep couples mentally and emotionally healthy. Recognizing stressors, devising sound strategies, and adopting compassion as a way of life can help both of you make it through social isolation during COVID-19.

Category: Marriage Society

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