For those who are in quarantine with their significant others, unease may be in the air as each person is subject to feeling more triggered than usual. During a vulnerable period, it is imperative to find stability and understanding to co-habituate in peace and even have the relationship thrive. Here are some ways to keep your relationship strong.
Check in with your partner to see how they are feeling and the status of their mental state. Your partner may be experiencing a great deal of stress and unable to effectively cope with the emotions. Let them freely express themselves, without any interruptions, and recite back what you heard to see if you truly understand what is going on with them. Ask if they are receptive to hearing you offer compassionate comfort or empathetic advice, or simply want to be heard. In times of uncertainty and heightened emotions, you can be a cheerleader for your partner to let them know they are seen and understood, and not alone.
You may find yourself more irked by your partner’s quirks, reactive toward them, or feeling resentful during this uneasy period. Get to know why. Be honest and share the emotional responses you have experienced in response to your partner’s behavior and actions. Avoid pointing the finger at your partner’s wrongs, blaming them when you are dissatisfied or disappointed. Speak up if your needs are not being met or if you wish to receive more from your partners such as help with chores or more time spent on a hobby. Use “I” statements to ask for what you want. This way both of you will have a mutual understanding of where each person is mentally and how each other’s behavior affects one another. The more you are on the same page and feel safe to express feelings, the better the two of you will be at resolving any conflict.
Have alone time
Carve out time for yourself every day. Make an agreement on the amount of time that is reasonable for each person to spend without each other (and the kids, if you have them), even if in the same physical location. The time can be dedicated to reading a few chapters from a book, hearing a podcast, video chatting with loved ones, and exercising–without your partner disrupting your alone time.
Each person has their own set of boundaries and each partner should respect them. Boundaries can include not discussing the news and politics before bed, not sharing personal information about your mental health with your partner’s family, or not interrupting “office hours”. Just because there is a dent in the norm does not mean there is a free pass to disregard your partner’s wishes.
Keep the flame alive
Co-living with a partner can peter out the excitement of a relationship. After some time together, you have to work toward keeping the fire alive. During quarantine, that is especially true. Seeing your partner 24/7 can make the intimacy feel stale but you can change that by committing to connecting a certain amount of times per week. Dedicate at least one night per week for a date night (in your home) that involves uninterrupted quality time together such as cooking or painting together.
Talk to a professional
If you find it difficult to talk to your partner about your feelings, needs, and desires, a couples therapist can help mediate the conversation between you and your partner so that you can maintain a healthy relationship.
To learn about couples therapy in Los Angeles, call Trauma and Beyond Center ® at (818) 651-0725.