For some couples, being stuck inside together in their own little bubble for a few weeks sounds like a dream come true. But for other couples, this could be their worst nightmare. From what I hear, some couples quarantined together are already losing their minds — and we’ve got a long way to go, people!
As we’re all being told to practice social distancing, and even in some cases, being told not to leave the house at all unless for essential purposes, couples are being quarantined together for an indefinite amount of time. If you’re feeling stressed out about the impact of coronavirus on your relationship, know that you’re not alone, and your nervous reaction to being quarantined with your partner is normal.
How to Maintain Your Relationship
“Any sort of abrupt change takes a lot to adjust to, and when we’re all navigating something unprecedented like COVID-19 in addition to then working from home, and being around your significant other 24/7, it’s a lot of change at once,” says certified relationship coach Rachel Wright LMFT. “There’s also so much uncertainty right now, and our stress levels are high. So, being suddenly put in an apartment or house with your partner 24/7, when you’re not used to that, with everything else, is a lot for our brains to cope with.”
In order to help you cope with all of these changes, here are some therapist approved tips for keeping your relationship intact when you’re quarantined with your partner.
1. Make time for alone time
According to Wright, alone time every day is crucial. “Everyone needs time by themselves and it can’t just be when you use the bathroom,” she says. “Take time to be alone whether that is to just breathe, masturbate, text with a friend, take a nap, read…whatever. The important thing is to take time to be with you, yourself, and just you.”
Try to coordinate timing with your partner, this way, when you’re having your alone time, your partner can have theirs, too. You both need time apart from each other to recharge and ensure that you don’t rip each other’s eyes out.
2. Create a schedule
Many people are struggling to keep a normal schedule right now, which is unfortunate because most of us rely on schedules for a sense of stability and even to combat things like anxiety and depression.
Wright suggests couples sit down together and come up with a rough schedule to add some structure and make things feel a little more normal. This is particularly helpful for couples navigating working from home together for the first time, or being around each other a lot more than usual. You can also use this time to set some general ground rules about noise or interruptions when working.
3. Get fresh air
Yes, many of us are being ordered to stay inside our homes, but that doesn’t yet mean we can’t take a walk around the block or go on a skate or bike ride. Wright says getting outside will help your well-being and help you not explode at your partner when things are tense. We as humans need fresh air. Just keep the six feet rule in mind in order to stay away from those germy respiratory droplets we’re all trying so hard to avoid.
Getting outside is great for your mental health. Studies show that walks outside in nature can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression — so if you live nearby a park or nature trail, take advantage of it!
4. Stay in touch with the outside world
Unfortunately, during this time, it’s not possible (well, possible but very, very ill advised — PLEASE don’t do it unless absolutely necessary) to go out and see other friends and family members. The whole point of social distancing is to avoid the spreading of germs, and that only works when we all stay home. But, thanks to technology, there are plenty of other ways to communicate with others. Don’t neglect relationships with friends and loved ones who are not your partner.
“Making sure that you have one to two calls, minimum, per day with other people is helpful to your mental health and overall sanity and connection,” Wright says. “Schedule video chats or phone calls with at least one friend or family member per day. It’s important to maintain your other relationships, even while you’re primarily with your partner.”
5. Learn how to communicate better
Communication is key in relationships all the time, but when you are quarantined together 24/7, communication is even more important. Part of this is learning to fight well — meaning being empathetic, and not engaging in minimizing, name calling, or shaming. “We’re all going to lose it for what feels like ‘no reason,’ we’re going to be rude or not the best version of ourselves — and that’s okay,” Wright says. “We need to give ourselves and our partner(s) grace.”
6. Use the time to your advantage
If you’re one of those couples who lives together but barely ever sees each other due to conflicting schedules or social lives, now’s the time to reconnect. Although it’s not ideal to be “trapped” at home, you can still make the most of it and do fun things with your partner.
Here are six ideas straight from a therapist:
- Play games together
- Spend extra time learning new things about each other
- Make lists of things you’ve been wanting to do together; circle the ones you can do at home
- Have sex and re-learn each other’s bodies
- Give each other massages
- Redecorate, clean, and make your home look amazing
Now is a time when the world — and your partner — needs more love than ever. Everything is so uncertain and stressful right now, but if you follow these tips and actively work on being the best partner you can be, you can be certain that being quarantined together you won’t destroy your relationship. Just think — it might actually bring you closer!