How has your relationship fared through quarantine?
I’ve heard the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to the effect of quarantine on relationships. For many couples, the extra time together has been very positive. For couples who were already struggling, lockdown has totally exacerbated issues. And for couples who were already on the brink, the stress created by corona has been the straw on the camels back; sadly, we’ve seen an increase in divorce filings. But there are some ways to ensure that your relationship not just survives, but strengthens during this bizarre and unprecedented time.
Externalize the Problem
It’s easy to get into an “I’m right, you’re wrong” dynamic as we’re all trying to figure out how to cope with the current environment. Instead, try to remember that this is a problem that is happening outside of your relationship. When we remember that, it is easier to feel like a team.
Schedule Weekly Check-Ins
I am a huge proponent of weekly check-ins. My husband and I sit down each week and have a conversation about what’s working well, what we need to change, what we need to plan, what we hope, etc. Creating a structured time bookends conversations. The benefit of this is that it prevents nagging. In other words, by knowing you have time set aside, you can hold off on constantly bringing something up all week long, only for it to fall on deaf ears. By knowing you have this time together, you can prepare yourself to listen intently. This helps us process information more effectively. It also gives us a chance to say what we appreciate, a key ingredient to successful relationships.
It may seem like it goes without saying that honesty is key in relationships, but I think it’s important to highlight. This is an essential component of strong relationships. It’s not always easy to be honest about our feelings. Men in particular might feel they “need to be strong” for their partners. But without honest – about what you feel, what you hope, what you fear – relationships will weaken. More than ever, we need to learn tools to keep our relationships strong.
We’re all feeling a little tense right now. I’ve certainly had days where I notice that I’m a bit short with my partner. Some couples may notice that their negative emotions are escalating quickly, resulting in a loss of temper. While I hope we can all practice compassion and patience during this time, it is so critical to apologize for missteps. Doing so creates accountability in your relationship. It demonstrates you have the self-awareness to recognize when you’ve stepped out of bounds, which helps restore trust in the relationship.
Resilient couples practice forgiveness. Resentment is known to be one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. By holding on to things from the past, our relationships weaken. In order to stay strong, it is critical to practice forgiveness, especially when you’re partner has made an effort to apologize.
Many of us are being tested now more than ever before. You have to make a choice. Are you going to allow this pandemic and the stress it’s caused weaken your relationship? Or are you going to step up to the plate and use this as an opportunity to become stronger than ever before. By staying focused and using these tools, you have the capability to come out tougher on the other side.