Mental health issues, such as suicide, anxiety, depression, grief, and stress, have skyrocketed during the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s no surprise that relationships have suffered as well. Couples who were living together found themselves in a new territory being home 24/7 and dealing with working from home issues, financial stress, and job instability. Throw in a few kids, and now relationships are being tested to another level with full-time child care and/or homeschooling.
So how have all these stressors and uncertainties affected the emotional connection between couples? Well, things that mildly irritated someone about their partner have now become intolerable. Flaws that could be overlooked before seem impossible to ignore now. Couples can no longer ignore, hide, or escape from the weak points of their relationship. And, most importantly, emotional needs are going unmet with all the stressors in the relationship.
While its true some couples have pulled apart during the pandemic, its also created opportunity for couples to build a stronger connection with each other. Here’s what couples are doing to keep their relationship healthy and their connection strong:
- Communicating: These couples are communicating with each other about what’s working and what’s not working. They are frequently checking in with each other’s needs. These couples are flexible and adapting to the needs of the relationship as the pandemic continues. If you are struggling to connect as a couple, here is an easy activity you can try as a starting point for discussion.
- Sharing responsibility: These couples are splitting up tasks in a way where neither partner is struggling with more work than the other. This includes managing work schedules, cooking, cleaning, doing groceries, managing children, etc. These couples are flexible with changing roles as they continue to communicate over what’s working and what’s not working.
- Setting boundaries: Couples have set clear work-life boundaries by agreeing on a set routine (e.g., time to work, time to switch off, mealtimes, playtime versus schoolwork, nap times and bedtimes, etc). Once again, these couples are remaining flexible and communicating about what needs to be changed in the routine.
- Scheduling time for oneself: Being together all the time may work for some couples, but for most, it can test the relationship in ways mentioned earlier. It’s important to make sure you are spending some time to do what you want by yourself, away from your partner, away from children. This is the time to practice self-care as well. These couples are communicating and scheduling it in, whether daily or weekly, making it a priority for both. Watch a movie, meditate, exercise, meet with your therapist, call a friend, read a book, go out on a walk, go for a drive – whatever you enjoy doing by yourself.
- Scheduling time for each other: As important as it is to schedule time for yourself, it is equally important to spend time with your partner, alone. These couples are carving out time for each other intentionally to maintain a healthy connection in the pandemic. They are eating breakfast together before the kids wake up in the morning, enjoying each other’s company while they nap, spending time together for an hour in the evenings once they are in bed, or spending a couple of hours together on the weekends.
These tips are applicable for all couples during all times, not just in a pandemic. Working as a team is integral to getting through any challenging time in a couple’s life. The take away is to remain open to communication, be flexible, and learn to balance individual needs with relationship needs. While adversity can break you apart, it can also create opportunity for you to become stronger together. Which one will you be?