If you’ve experienced moments of frustration in your relationship recently, you’re not alone.
The past year or so has challenged us in ways we could never have imagined, including how we cope with the extra “togetherness” with our partner. The seemingly unending crisis has been stressful and frightening, and the lack of face-to-face connection with family and friends has taken its toll on our emotional wellbeing.
But through it all, you and your partner have had each other. You’ve supported each other through the darkest days of the crisis. It hasn’t been easy, but you’re still in this together, and for that, you should be proud.
However, the work doesn’t end here. We’re still facing overwhelming uncertainty, so let’s look at some strategies to nurture your bond and ensure your relationship holds long after the pressure’s off.
Give each other space
Boundaries are extremely important when you’re spending a lot of time together. In normal circumstances, we’d spend most of the day apart, making the time we have at home seem more cherished. However, right now, many of us are feeling smothered and crave physical and emotional space.
Routine downtime helps to create a semblance of pre-pandemic life. Needing your space is not an act of rejection; it’s a necessary part of nurturing yourself and your relationship. If your partner needs a little more space from time to time, it’s important to support them.
Whether you want to exercise, rest, or read a book, what you do in this time is entirely up to you.
It’s a common but misguided belief that couples who love each other want to spend all their time together. However, uninterrupted time apart is essential to maintaining a healthy relationship.
After all, “absence makes the heart grow fonder”.
Keep the romance alive
There are many reasons why intimacy is one of the most important factors in a healthy relationship. As we deal with constant change, we need as much stability as possible. If you feel yourselves drifting apart, intimacy has the power to eliminate negativity and bring you back together.
With our stress levels at an all-time high, our ability to be intimate can suffer as a result. For example, your partner may not be interested in sex. It isn’t your fault! Sit down, talk through your concerns, and work together to reintroduce intimacy into your relationship.
The term ‘intimacy’ encompasses a variety of physical acts that strengthen your emotional connection. It’s not a matter of heading straight to the bedroom. Showing affection to your partner reinforces your attraction to them and creates a feeling of closeness you don’t have with anyone else.
Communicate your way through this
It’s been said time and time again: communication is key.
We all cope with crisis and uncertainty in different ways, and you or your partner may be finding things incredibly difficult. Talking about how you’re feeling promotes a conversation about how the current environment is affecting you both.
While it’s tempting to shut down in difficult times, you must push past this urge and keep the lines of communication as open as possible. Lack of communication can heighten the feeling of loneliness and rejection and quickly cause a relationship to unravel.
Regular communication helps you stay connected, avoid misunderstandings, and acknowledge each other’s difficulties. Be sure to keep it light from time to time and talk about life before the pandemic. Reminisce about shared experiences, laugh together, and remind each other how you got to where you are today.
Stay on the same team
There’s nothing better than knowing someone always has your back, especially in stressful times. This act of loyalty is fundamental to maintaining a healthy connection and one of the many perks of being in a relationship.
When the going gets tough, having someone there to support you makes everything a little easier. We never have to feel alone in our frustrations, and we have someone there to help us adapt to change.
It’s healthy to disagree sometimes, and you might find you disagree on many things lately. But feeling supported is the backbone of a relationship and lets you both know that despite the odd disagreement, you’re always there for each other.
Take a moment to pause
When stress runs wild amid crisis and uncertainty, it’s natural to sometimes say things we don’t mean. With our cortisol levels up, our brains go into defence mode, affecting our ability to deliver rational responses in a conversation. It doesn’t take much to feel triggered or to take something the wrong way.
In these moments, take a breath and ask yourself two things:
- Is your response necessary?
- Is your response kind?
A couple of seconds to pause before you respond could change the entire course of a conversation. It also makes communication with your partner more productive.
There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Keep going.
If you’ve come this far, your relationship certainly has the qualities of something great. Don’t let cabin fever unravel your relationship. Nurture it through the overwhelming uncertainty and make sure it comes out the other side of the pandemic intact.