Staying together when you're always together
It wouldn’t be exaggerating to say we’re living through extraordinary times; our normal everyday lives have been shaken up and we don’t know what they are going to look like once the crisis has passed. The lockdown has produced a surge in cases of domestic violence and divorce lawyers are predicting an increase in splits when we return to some sort of normality, so what can you do to keep things going with your partner when the world has changed so much? How do you deal with the reality of being with someone 24/7 when you are used to living a fair part of your life separately? We’ve heard of people who live and work together; those who never argue, but for most of us that hasn’t been our reality. So how do we cope with our new ways of living and still come out of this as a couple?
Accept it’s going to be hard
Things aren’t “normal” so accepting that, will really help. If we are feeling anxious or irritable then this is likely to affect your relationship. Being with someone all the time can be testing; worrying about what’s happening can make you snappy with your partner, or be withdrawn. Try to be kind to each other, realise that this is your partner’s way of coping, rather than letting it lead to some sort of conflict.
Let some things go
This continues on from the above but it is important to try to let some things go before situations become worse. Pretend you didn’t hear or walk away rather than let things get out of control.
Have a routine
It can help to establish a routine, especially when days seem to merge together. Part of this could be negotiating who does what: if one of you has been a stay-at-home parent or works from home before this started then it might be an idea to talk about a new division of household tasks. If one of you has usually done all the cooking this could be a good time for the other partner to start doing some of this. The same goes for other household tasks which could help both of you: one appreciating how much needs doing whilst the other is able to step back a bit.
Agree on how to deal with the news
With ongoing news about the effects of the virus on all media sources, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and anxious all the time. It’s a good idea to sit down together and work out how you deal with updates, especially if one of you likes to know everything when the other would prefer to keep up-to-date once a day making the situation more manageable for them. Agree on this together if possible and respect what the other person wants and feels. Set a boundary for the amount of time you will discuss the current situation and then move onto to other things.
Get some alone time
It can be hard being together all the time especially if you live in a small space so try to find ways of having time alone to stop things becoming heated. If possible, you can spend time in another room, maybe having a nice long bath, or maybe just plugging into some music, doing some meditation or listening to a podcast will allow you some personal headspace. This can allow irritations to de-escalate and also allows you to distract yourself by focusing on something else.
Make sure you exercise
One of the reasons we are being allowed out is to exercise, and taking a good, long walk, run or bike ride can make you feel so much better and help you sleep. You could do this on your own if you felt like you needed some space or with your partner, as sometimes being together outside of the home can help you feel better about your relationship. Simply walking together holding hands can make you feel closer, whether you’re talking or not.
Keep in contact with friends and family
Although we can’t see other people in person we can keep in contact with friends and family by telephone or online. Try to keep the conversations light and have fun rather than allow it to descend into moaning about your partner. If you find it hard to find positive stuff to talk about then you can always play games with them online or do quizzes together. There’s plenty of ideas out there.
Have couples counselling
If you feel it would help then you can arrange couples counselling. A number of counsellors are working online or by telephone and this might help manage your relationship during the lockdown and beyond. If you don’t like the idea of working online then you could do some research into local counsellors who work with couples and call them to discuss an appointment for when face-to-face work is allowed again. Just doing this might help defuse the situation at home as you are acknowledging you want to make your relationship better.
Remember being kind to each other can make such a difference and hopefully by working together your relationship can come through this time in one piece or maybe even better than before.