Many couples are experiencing new stressors during this time, anxiety, and other issues due to COVID-19 and current events. In addition to these changes, opposing schedules, work, routines, tiring or exhausting days can lead to the relationship feeling neglected which can put an even bigger strain on partners.
If you are not sure how to revive your relationship, the following is a list of 10 tips for keeping the relationship alive during COVID-19.
1. Clarify roles and responsibilities, again.
COVID-19 has led to so many changes and one of those things is how you operate as a couple.
Take a moment to think about what has recently changed:
Are both of you working while juggling children?
Is one partner working from home while the other is still working in the office?
Are you stressed because you anticipate even more adjustments?
Don’t forget that when your roles change in and out of the home, it is important to discuss with your partner, too. Often when there are unexpected changes, a partner may take on new roles and responsibilities in the home by default, but it’s causing conflicts or resentment.
For instance, if one partner is working from home, they may have taken on cleaning duties, managing children, pets, and/or having dinner prepared, too. However, just because one partner is working from home does not necessarily mean their situation is easier or less stressful. Therefore, sit down with your partner and discuss those roles and responsibilities whenever you both experience a major life change or transition.
2. Have time together and time apart
Many couples are finding themselves around each other more than ever, especially during a time where people are unable to participate or engage in their typical activities due to COVID-19—traveling, going to the gym or workout classes, game nights with friends, etc.
Having time apart doesn’t mean you like your partner any less, but with recent changes, you may have lost your opportunity to decompress during your drive home from work. Instead of taking a breath, listening to calming music, or a podcast in the car, now you’re closing your computer and your partner is the receiving end of your frustration or stress from a hectic workday.
Time with your partner is important, but so is time apart to focus on your own needs, self-care, and just have some space. Whatever the reason, take some healthy breaks away from your partner so you can come back stronger, more energized, and in a better headspace.
3. Incorporate self-care
Quite frequently I hear clients say, “I don’t have time” or “I’m just too busy.” However, self-care is crucial! If you don’t invest in your mental health, you cannot fully support yourself or be support for others. Therefore, pay attention to your current state of mind and well-being.
Self-care has many benefits including:
decreasing stress, depression, and anxiety
boosting your mood
helps you bounce back from burnout
increases your focus
supports a healthier lifestyle
It doesn’t mean you have to engage in self-care every day or for multiple hours a day but develop a goal to improve your self-care. Self-care activities may include:
listening to music that motivates you
calling a loved one or connecting with a friend
taking a break throughout the day
doing a body scan or meditation exercise
engaging in physical activity or going for a walk
learning something new
If you need more self-care ideas, take a look online for a list. Your own mental health is a long-term investment so that you can function effectively.
Effective communication is so important and vital for any healthy relationship. Communication is a skill. If you don’t practice—in the most effective way—that skill weakens.
Reflect on your communication style and ways you would like to improve. Then take time to practice effective communication—verbal and non-verbal—with your partner. Consider a few of the following changes:
Maybe that includes using eye contact at the dinner table rather than eating on the couch watching television.
That could mean that when you have a conflict, you sit down with one another rather than standing and shouting.
Perhaps you need some time to process why you feel the way you do in order to effectively express it to your partner.
5. Step away from technology
With current events, COVID-19 updates, and access to news on technology, it’s easier to become distracted and detached from the present moment.
When are you most distracted with your phone? Is it in the morning while you’re getting ready, during meals, or before bed? Work with your partner to establish what that boundary looks like. Determine a time that’s most important to step away and disconnect from the technology. Instead, use that precious time to reconnect with your partner.
6. Check in with each other
This may seem like a basic concept, but it’s often neglected. You may be spending more time together in the home, but still not connecting. Ask your partner how they are feeling, what is going on with work, and how their day has been.
This technique expresses that you are interested and invested in your partner.
7. Create new patterns/routines
Couples tend to get into a routine and have difficulty stepping out of those patterns. However, when is the last time you thought about those patterns? When is the last time you have done something or tried something new? Of course, establishing routines can be a healthy, but it’s also necessary to re-evaluate from time to time to make sure what you are doing is still working.
Furthermore, switching things up is a great way to keep the relationship alive. For instance, rather than ordering the standard go-to meals, check out a restaurant you haven’t tried or search for a new recipe to make together.
8. Prioritize the relationship
With all these different priorities like work, children, family members, friends, education, and more—sometimes the relationship gets lost in the list of priorities.
In order to prevent the relationship from becoming stagnant, it’s important to discuss or even revisit goals you both may have for the relationship. The future may be uncertain given our current environment, but your relationship doesn’t have to be.
Determine ways in which you would like to grow with your partner. Maybe that includes short-term goals such as learning something new together or planning a road trip for a new experience together. Maybe your goals are more long-term such as discussing career plans or moving.