6 key ways to maintain a healthy relationship during isolation
We’ve all seen the jokes about couples arguing during the forced isolation period. Even before this unusual time, relationships have always been tested to the limit by simply living together. It’s easy in the beginning when couples date and get to know each other within their own space. Living separately allows for passion and excitement to spring from simply thinking about one another. You see the best in each other, but not necessarily the raw reality which comes from living together.
When couples choose to live together things can drastically change. All of the little habits and idiosyncrasies are suddenly on show, whereas before that each person came pre-packaged so to speak. Everyday life rituals such as brushing teeth, going to the toilet, showering, putting on makeup, snoring, getting ready to go out or for work and eating habits, among many more, are shielded from one another. Often at this point, there is no room for mystery and its extremely common for couples to become complacent, for what made each person attracted to one other has changed.
Every couple needs space. It’s important to be able to lead your own life as an individual within a relationship, which is why maintaining your own passions/interests, exercise regimes, friendships and career purpose is essential to keeping a relationship healthy and fresh. But what happens when we are forced, as we are now, into a position of isolation and close physical proximity? Answer: all of the above should still apply, but it becomes even more crucial to find your own space and sense of individuality when it's limited and to spend the quality time needed in order to maintain a great relationship.
6 key ways to maintain a healthy relationship during isolation
1. Go to work (whether at home or not): this is a simple one and essential for relationship health. People who don’t work lack purpose to get up in the morning. This can lead to low mood and depression as the person begins to feel useless. The impact on their relationship, especially if they are living with a partner, can be huge as mental health often deteriorates without purpose. If you are no longer travelling to a location then hopefully you can work from home within your own space.
If you’ve lost your job or find you are unable to do your job then spend that time searching for available work and finding tasks to complete at home, for example; painting fences or mowing the lawn. Keep yourself busy to maintain a positive psychology for you and your relationship.
2. Keep up your passion or interest: for example, if you love your music or perhaps you’re a part-time DJ then grab your headphones, take yourself to another room and immerse yourself in tunes. If you enjoy writing then set a challenge to complete a rough draught of a novel, or simply get your thoughts out onto a page.
Exercising your skills/talents and interests will fulfil you, and even more so if you’ve managed to turn your passion into a career. This is vital within a relationship. Your passions also make you interesting and are ultimately what helped you attract your partner when you started dating. Keep it up.
3. Make an effort with your appearance: it’s easy for couples during isolation to spend all your time in pyjamas or tracksuit bottoms, but laziness in relationships leads to complacency. No longer making an effort with how you dress or styling your hair might seem like nothing during this period but it's not conducive to a passionate relationship. Too much comfort is an attraction killer.
Remember when you first started dating? You probably made sure you looked great, and that most certainly shouldn’t change, isolation or not. Making an effort with your appearance has a positive effect on your mood which your partner will notice and respond to, especially when you’re both in isolation.
4. Keep up with or begin developing your fitness: I think this speaks for itself. Working out releases endorphins which can dramatically improve your mood and energy, especially in the morning when a fitness ritual is more likely to boost your immune system. Looking great and seeing progress in energy, fitness, vitality and body shape will make you feel awesome. It will also inspire your partner to do the same.
You can go out for a run/cycle, do an online workout or lift weights if available. You can do this separately or together, both ways are beneficial. Working out alone gives you crucial space from your partner, which many couples give up to their detriment. Working out together can also be a great way to bond and create a positive ritual as a couple. Give both a try.
5. Catch up with friends regularly: Phone calls, Skype, FaceTime or using zoom are great ways to connect with friends. This is vital. Isolation is one thing, but isolation with zero friendship contact is incredibly unhealthy.
Being in your own echo chamber can lead a person to irrational thinking in a short period of time. If an argument happens between you and your partner it’s great to be able to thrash things out with a buddy, get some perspective and let off steam. It’s also vital to maintain a healthy social life. If you and your partner share friends you can catch up together, or even as a group using the Zoom application.
6. Do fun things together: if you’re both well (and current Government isolation restrictions permit it), you can go out walking in nature on a Geocaching treasure hunt. There are lots of downloadable maps online to enter into a GPS, or you can simply download a Geocaching application via your phone.
If you’re stuck indoors or have limited access to the countryside you can create fun games to play together with cheeky consequences for the loser; be creative. Speaking of creativity, why not draw or paint each other's portrait or couples life drawing with 5-minute body poses? The point is to be fun and playful together.
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