The Coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on all aspects of our lives, including romantic relationships. Although there have been a number of quarantine breakups- a relatively new relationship has fizzled out or an old relationship has worn thin- a number of relationships have also been able to grow and even thrive.
This pandemic has put relationships to the test which does not have to be a bad thing. It has revealed issues that we have avoided addressing, and has created opportunities for greater growth and connection if approached in a healthy way.
No one is perfect and we all have things we can work on individually and in our relationships. Many of us did not have great communication or boundaries taught to us growing up so it can be hard to know how to navigate these aspects of our own relationships.
It is normal to not get along with your partner all the time, but it is how you move through these times that can either build your relationships up or tear them apart. Many times, couples just lack the ability to communicate what they need in a way that can be understood by their partner. Taking time to develop self-awareness and effective communication skills takes a conscious effort. Many people are under the false belief that if you are with the right person it should all just work out without having to put the work in, and this is simply not true.
Relationships take work and requires vulnerability and self-awareness. Learning to communicate your own needs to your partner and seeking to understand and support them is a dance that can be mastered.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways this pandemic has been impacting couples’ relationships, and how you can successfully navigate through this difficult time in a way that builds greater intimacy and connection.
What common challenges have couples been facing during the pandemic?
Stressors are challenging life events and experiences that are external to the relationship but can make it difficult to navigate and can put a strain on the relationship. These include financial hardships, lack of privacy, children, mental health challenges, work stress, difficult relationships with extended family or friends. Although these challenges can be present at any time the pandemic has been a catalyst that has greatly impacted the strength of these common stressors putting a strain on people’s relationships. These are all sensitive issues that can be difficult to communicate about and are often very activating for people.
Many couples are now forced to communicate more and when they do not things can get uncomfortable fast. There are many challenges couples face when it comes to communication without a pandemic, but the close encounters people have found themselves in have really highlighted the need for good communication. You cannot avoid having the hard conversations or fear talking about it will make it worse. Many people also feel their partner can read their mind and fail to ask for what they need and want. There are many unhealthy communication patterns that couples can fall into because they do not have the skills or tools to be an effective communicator, it’s not their fault many people just never had it modelled for them.
There are many underlying vulnerabilities that can be triggered in people due to the increased stress of the pandemic. These vulnerabilities could be mental health issues, addictions, personality traits (such as neuroticism), and past bad relationships. These underlying issues that have not been properly addressed or treated might cause additional stress on people’s relationships.
Tips to maintain a Healthy Relationships during this difficult time
If you can accept that life is difficult right now it is easier to be in stress and anxiety. Acceptance does not mean you are okay with the state of the world it just means you do not spend your days wishing for it to be different. Instead, you can be more present and aware of the things you can do instead of focusing on everything you do not like. When we resist reality, we create more suffering, when we can accept it for what it is even if we do not agree or like it.
Just because you are with someone all the time does not mean that time is quality time. It’s important to consciously create quality time together as a couple and to also spend time apart. Plan creative quarantine dates together such as paint night, go for a walk together, set up a picnic in the living room, play games, cook dinner together, have a spa date, etc. It can also be good to exercise together and do productive enjoyable fun things together.
Although you might be in the same house as your partner you can also create some space. It is good to have other people to support your emotional health than just your partner. Reaching out to others for support and fun online can be healthy for the relationship. Keeping your own schedule and routine is also important and it might be different than your partners, it’s important to communicate your needs and boundaries with your partner.
Work on things together:
No relationship is perfect and they often take work and support. Taking this time to work through some of the problems you might be having can set you up for an even stronger and healthier relationship. Instead of avoiding difficult conversations or feelings take this time now to dive into these so they can be addressed and healed. Taking time to work on the relationships by either reading a couple’s book together or receiving counselling can help build more intimacy and closeness and set up the relationships for future success.
Get in touch on 01925 730123 or email [email protected].