Many of us are weeks into isolation in hopes of flattening the curve of contagion during this coronavirus pandemic. This is a stressful time for all of us. Couples are dealing with a completely different daily routine, perhaps spending more time together than they’re used to. Patience wears thin as fears and insecurities about things like work, finances and the future cause us to be more emotional and even argumentative with one another.
For some of you in already fragile relationships, the stress of isolation may threaten to push you over the edge. Before that happens, try some of these ideas for not just getting through isolation with your partner , but coming out better, stronger, happier and more in love than you were to start with.
Routines bring comfort: Try to keep as close as you can to a normal routine. You may have been treating this time of isolation like a vacation, but I don’t recommend it. If you’re working from home, try keeping as close to your regular hours. Having a plan for the day helps you both to concentrate on things you can control and affect. This helps with feelings of loss of control and the feeling of anxiety and uncertainty around having to change your regular routines to remain at home.
Check-in: Take a moment to stop whatever you’re doing and check in with each other. Talk about what’s on your mind, what’s got you worried, what you’re doing right now and how you’re feeling about it. This is helpful when tensions are high to get to the heart of what’s causing your emotional upset. Often it has nothing to do with the relationship, and is coming from another source. When you realize that, you’re less likely to take it out on your partner. You can deal with it differently and it helps diffuse tension between you. You can unite and be on the same side.
Date nights: I can’t stress the importance of date nights enough. Dress up and show up. Pick up a to-go meal and drive to a scenic overlook. Enjoy each other’s company, talk about happy things. Get into a romantic mood with your partner. Flirt and fool around. Play is so needed, as is the physical expression and stress reduction that sexual encounters bring. The anticipation of date night and the build up to it will have both of you looking forward to the date. You might like it so well you’ll find yourself doing it more and more.
Time Alone: Take time to renew and recharge even if that means time by your- self. Just because you’re isolating together doesn’t mean you can’t take individual time for yourself. Introverts especially need to take time to be alone, and to work out their emotions and sometimes simply rest without outside pressures from anyone. If you are partnered with someone like this, the best thing you can do is to give them their space and let them work things out on their own. You can’t fix them, talking is not what they need. At times they just need to be alone and that’s okay. Before we were required to socially isolate, one of you may have spent a lot of your time alone. It’s a tough adjustment to have your partner with you 24/7. This is a great opportunity for you to strengthen your bond and do some work on your relationship.
Patience: It should go without saying, but you can be nicer. If you’re fortunate enough to have a partner isolating with you, that’s something to be happy about. Celebrate your love. You’re luckier than a lot of people who are truly alone.
Plan for the future: Don’t stop living and growing as a couple or as individuals. Stay informed, grow and become educated. Maximize the time you have together and build your future. Grow a garden, plant trees and make plans. Stay close and connected to your families and be your best self. Resist the temptation to give in to the doom and gloom we are hearing about daily. Find and share some good news.
Retain your compassion: Be compassionate to you partner and to yourself. You will make it through this together.