Coronavirus has shattered most our routines, pitched economies into spiraling free fall and left us somewhat stunned and down. We have been stripped of pretty much everything we are used to: social life, customary conversation with the neighbors, friends and family, we can’t go around, we’re isolated and split off from each other.
SECLUSION CAN BE PUNISHING…
Indeed. Mainly because it strips us from our identities, the way we recognize ourselves and relate to others. Many of us have lost their jobs as well as our usual run of errands. No more school drop-offs, no more weekend road trips, no more dinners out or parties. Spring is at the door, but we cannot enjoy it the way we would like to. All our points of reference are evaporating. Without all of the above, we wander lost… We are homebound, but restless.
In all of this, the only person we dare approach is our partner, who’s stuck at home too. But sometimes, he/she can annoy the hell out of us.
Most of us do not have ideal intimate relationships, already. But at least, a few weeks ago, we could escape the blowups and routine bickering: go visit a friend, go for a walk or go to the gym, but now, we are stuck between four walls.
RELATIONSHIP SURVIVAL TIPS
So now that coronavirus has shut off all our usual escapes, how do we release the pressure so that the relationship does not end up exploding ? Couple-therapy experts point out that successful couples – those who remain HAPPILY together for decades – follow certain guidelines:
- They look for what their partner is doing right, not what they’re doing wrong.
- They say thank you all along the day, even for simple things, to show their appreciation.
- They look for positive traits in their partner.
- They call them out in lovingly manners.
- They work hard to ban criticism from their vocabulary.
- They never call each other nasty names, nor do they roll their eyes at each other.
- They express what they do need, rather than what they resent.
- They listen to each other, and ask questions to their partner to understand their needs.
- They always try to understand their partner’s background before responding to them, when they argue.
- They create compromises by each identifying values or dream they feel they can’t negotiate, and then look together for ways to find middle grounds.
- They cuddle and touch each other often, not only out of eroticism, but with affection.
WHY CREATING SUCH HABITS CAN HELP
These habits of communication prevent poisoning the relationship with criticism, contempt or violence, as it detoxifies the atmosphere a couple breathes daily. Such habits create warmth and safety, and allow both partners to relax and grow – both individually or together.
When you have had a tough day, why not create sessions of “stress-reducing conversations. This would allow each partner to share the highlights and lowlights of their day, hence sharing their external worries. Those conversations are not about trying to solve issues, but rather to ask and understand more about your partner’s emotions. It is about empathy.
Experts explain that biologically, we are “pack animals”, which means we depend on each other. And that is more so the case in a couple: they need each other intensely, especially during times of stress. They need help not to solve external problems, but to feel understood and less alone.
So how about cultivating a little more kindness between us ?
ENJOYING COUPLE LIFE UNDER LOCKDOWN
Missing the pub night? Invite friends for online cocktails and chats at a time when you might normally meet after work. Despite the remoteness of the operation and the frequent occasional annoyances of technology, this interaction via video will make you feel you are not alone on this ship. It also makes people more candid and they tend to open up more.
You live in a small apartment and can’t enjoy the garden? Grow herbs on your balcony. Gardening has proven to keep people sane in tough times. And it still connects you with the outdoors, even if it’s on a balcony. Plus, there is a gently satisfaction of watching things grow, it brings you positivity. You can each have your own corner with your favorites and encourage each other.
You feel confused and restless ? Exercise together. We are creatures of habits and right now, all our habits have been crushed. So why not try create new habits, starting with exercising as a couple. It can build motivation and purpose. You can find tons of easy home workouts online. There’s no “best workout” at this point; just choose what feels right for you.
Missing the dinner parties? Cook as a couple. In times of uncertainty, we have to make do with what we have; And what we have plenty of, right now, is time at home. Cooking together can be really fun, and it creates a new type of connection. You will enjoy so much having dinner together, enjoying the fruit of your own labor.
Your house suddenly feels like it’s not right? How about some cleaning and redecoration? A lockdown is the perfect time to do a bit of that redecorating that you have been postponing for the past year… And doing it together can be – challenging, of course, if you don’t agree – very rewarding, because you will see the result of your own work.
You have to work from home but feel unproductive ? Create a schedule. Constantly sharing a closed space with someone is quite challenging. And it does generate counter-productivity. One efficient idea is that by setting working hours during which each one would be in their own space (as much as that is possible), you would then reset priorities according to that schedule. To kick it up a notch and make it exciting, also set coffee breaks or snack breaks where you both meet for 15 minutes before going back to your work schedule.
Morning, afternoons and evenings started looking and feeling exactly the same, and that is a recipe for breakdown. By following some of the above, your will definitely make things easier, and even enjoyable !