5 Issues Couples Are Having During COVID-19 (and How to Solve Them)
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has affected every avenue of life, including relationships and dating. Celebrations such as weddings have been postponed, travel has been banned and there are even reports of divorce rates soaring. Without a doubt, loving in the time of COVID-19 is challenging especially for those who are self-isolated or those practicing social distancing with a partner 24/7.
Couples that have a healthy relationship learned how to navigate through tough times and keep their love life going, but during such unprecedented times, even successful couples may be going through unique challenges.
Part of the reason why we are susceptible to enhanced conflict is that we are all confined, together, all day long. If in the past we use to get away from household stresses by going to the gym, getting hair and nails done or simply visiting friends or relatives, that is no longer available to us. Suddenly, decisions on delegating house chores and who will homeschool the children are no longer outsourced.
To top it all, couples are now dealing with the emotional and financial stress of losing a job with the possibility of sick loved ones or getting sick themselves. It is a lot to handle.
Let us look at some of the most common issues couples are having right now and how they can be fixed.
1. You are spending too much time together.
At one point or another, you wished to spend more time with your partner, but those days seem far away. Being confined together can cause stress, reduced tolerance and claustrophobia. It also creates the potential for differences to become more visible which can then lead to creating tension and conflict.
The Solution: Establish a new routine.
Just like children need routine, it’s important to stick to your pre-lockdown routine as much as possible. If you are working from home, creating structure and negotiating clear boundaries between work and home is key.
The goal is to come up with a management strategy that will benefit both of you.
2. You are given no space for individual growth.
Given that we are on lockdown, it is important to accept the current reality but also recognize this too shall pass. Practice being intentional and give each other plenty of space emotionally and physically.
The Solution: Prioritize your mental and physical health.
Being able to spend time alone doing your own thing is a key ingredient to a healthy relationship. Of course, it is easier said than done when you are confined together all day long. This might mean noticing when you are irritable, anxious or overwhelmed and agreeing to take a break. Negotiate with your partner and trade-off the afternoon shift with the children for some “me time.” Use this time to practice healthier habits, whether it’s meditating, journaling, doing yoga, reading a book or calling a friend. Simply having some sort of outlet is key. Take turns giving each other the space needed.
If alone time is not always available, then go for walks as a couple. Any hand activities are also great because they stimulate the heart chakra and calm the nervous system.
3. You are now homeschooling.
Suddenly you have a new side gig: homeschooling. Many of us are not used to homeschool. Luckily, there are plenty of free educational websites that can help you navigate each day during the crisis.
The Solution: Stick to a schedule.
Form a routine that works for you and your family. Kids tend to have a lot of energy, so create a designated area for learning. That way, they know the difference between school time and playtime. Every child is different and needs different types of support. If your child learns better in groups, then try a Zoom session with fellow classmates. With older kids, make sure you discuss feelings as they tend to be overwhelming during stressful times. Work on passion projects, sing songs and spend time outside if you have a private yard.
4. You argue over finances.
With so much risk and uncertainty, it’s inevitable not to worry about what is to come next. Be honest about your current financial situation and stay away from discussing finances when you are arguing or tired. If you cannot agree, then take time to cool off and revisit the conversation later.
The Solution: Communicate the underlying issues.
If you are the only source of income or you both are unemployed, it is important to discuss and create a plan to budget out your finances. Prioritize on your spending to eliminate future issues. Now is a good time to cancel any subscriptions you do not need and keeping an eye on your investments. Certain issues can put a strain on the relationship, so listen to your partner’s feelings and validate their response during such stressful times.
5. You are both managing more stress than usual.
Anxiety levels are at an all-time high, so reassure your partner of their safety and how you plan on keeping other members of the family safe. Talk about the facts and myths regarding the current crisis and communicate your worries, fears and concerns.
The Solution: Create a safe space for each other.
We can all agree that communication builds connection. Being present and really listening to each other is what will get you through these hard times. Dr. John Gottman advises couples to practice “daily stress-reducing conversations” in order to foster a deeper connection with each other. This means turning toward each other by listening to your partner’s feelings and validating their response. A great example of that might be taking 15 minutes each day to check in with each other. “What was your day like today?” “Are there any ways I can support you and be a better partner?” Being fully present and listening to your partner’s concerns without interrupting will ease the stress.
Lastly, please remember to be gentle with others and accept that this is a strange time for everyone.
Photo by Courtney Coles on Unsplash