Not only did your job, social life, and family time get turned upside down overnight, your relationship has also been impacted. The influence of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown on couples is being less talked about than so many other aspects of this pandemic, and it’s more important than ever to be conscious of the ways you are interacting with your partner during this challenging and highly stressful time.
Here are some ideas to consider as you adjust to life during this coronavirus outbreak.
Separate Your Workday
If you are fortunate to keep your job during this pandemic, you are likely working in close quarters with your partner, and maybe even your kids. Because of this, you see your partner all day long and may even be fighting over quiet space in the home or juggling kid-watching duties between conference calls. Even after a few days of this arrangement, you might feel tired of seeing your partner and yearn for some quiet alone time.
While your solutions to fix this challenge might be limited, start by naming dedicated spaces in your home for work - whether that be a certain bedroom or area of the home, or even a table that you name “your desk” for the short-term. Try and use this space exclusively throughout the workday so that there is something “special” about coming together at the end of the day and communing again with your partner. Just like if you were coming home from the office, take the opportunity to connect at the end of your individual workdays, talk about the ups and downs of your day like you normally would, and unwind together after creating space in your work-from-home arrangements.
Focus on Intimacy
It might feel like options to spend time together are limited right now and if you have kids, having focused time together, like planned date nights, feels like a distance memory. However, sometimes spending time together in a less-distracted environment can be more nurturing for your relationship. Instead of the distractions of a busy restaurant or the excitement of live music, enjoy instead the rare quiet time and relief from the feelings of overwhelm you might typically have. Maybe that means taking walks together, enjoying a meal outside together, or even having a picnic in your backyard. If you feel inspired to dive into enriching your relationship, download the Gottman love app for ideas that will help foster authentic connection. Use this time to focus on the important connections in your life that often don’t get the time and attention they deserve.
The question on everyone’s mind at this time is “when is this going to end?”. And while you might feel comfort in knowing that date, or at least a time-frame, you can use this time instead to plan ahead and look forward to what is possible post-pandemic.
This often starts with finances. Couples usually put off examining their finances because it can be a common point of disagreement in a relationship. However, this is a great time to audit your spending, look for savings, and prioritize where you want to spend any extra income. Brainstorm creative ways to lessen the financial worries that accompany this unprecedented time, like cutting back on “nice to haves” that you might realize you no longer need, since you’ve been living without them during the pandemic. Then, put together your vacation bucket list, your summer fun list, or ideas for a long road trip. Dream big, knowing and believing that this will pass. Give yourself plenty of things to look forward to, and continue to practice gratitude during this time.
At Center for Shared Insight, we are still supporting clients virtually during this time. Our therapists are here to help you sort through the challenges posed by COVID-19, including the impact of social distancing, as well as the changes to your family life and the important relationships in your life. We’re in this together.