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, put on a mask, read a book, go out on a walk, go for a drive – whatever would allow you to do something you like to do by yourself.
- Scheduling time for each other: As important as it is to schedule time for yourself, its also important to spend time with your partner, once the kids are tucked away in bed. Whether 30 minutes a day or a couple of hours every week, decide together on whatever is needed to maintain a healthy connection. Get creative with date night ideas at home once the kids are asleep, or, strap them in their carseats during nap time and go out for a drive as the kids fall asleep in the back. Don’t forget to grab some hot chocolate on the way to enjoy together!
Working as a team is key to getting through these uncertain times. The take away is to remain open to communication, be flexible, and continue to adapt to the needs of the relationship and of the family as they change. Remember, while adversity can break us apart, it can also create opportunity for us to become stronger together. Which one will you be?