Relationships in a time of Covid-19

We all find ourselves living through unprecedented times. The Covid-19 pandemic is a flash torch on relationships like no other. If we didn’t have an awareness of our partner’s annoying habits before, we sure do now! Perhaps you’ve found yourself asking one of these questions…

Why are we suddenly arguing so much?
How do I stop being annoyed by my partner’s habits?
Why am I only seeing this in my partner now, after all these years?
How can we help our relationship survive this?
Does this mean we are not suited after all?

With life losing its usual structure, being in lockdown with your partner can be intense. Back in March, it may have initially felt romantic, or an opportunity to let go of the busy lives we find ourselves living and reconnect. However, nine months later, for many people, those ideas slipped out the side door a while ago.

Adjusting to the significant changes we’ve experienced takes time, whether those changes are working from home; losing a job; working on the front line; financial stresses, loss of socialising or worry about family and friends. All these things have a significant impact on how we manage our lives and our relationships.

There is no shame in recognising that being with a significant other so consistently during this time has brought some annoying habits to light and put strain on relationships. It’s not surprising and in fact, it is important that it is acknowledged. Some couples will manage to work their way through – we have six ways to help your relationship below – however, if you would like support from a professional counsellor, please call 01227 903 503 and we will connect you with one of our experienced relationship therapists.

Six tips to help your relationship survive lockdown and the tier system

1. Regular check-ins
Decide how often you’d like to do this – weekly, daily, twice a week. During the check-in, turn off the TV, set your phones on silent or leave them in another room and talk. Talk about how you are feeling and what’s on your mind. Discuss what’s working between you and what needs adjusting. Look at your partner when they are talking. Rather than thinking about what you want to say next, listen fully to what they are expressing.

2. Agree on ‘alone time’
It’s not healthy for any couple to be together 24/7. We all need our own physical and emotional space and work time doesn’t constitute healthy alone time. Agree on specific times each of you will get this. If you have children, one can look after them while the other has time alone and vice versa.

3. Create separate working spaces
Whether one or both of you are working from home, create a ‘work space’ separate from your ‘home space’. This way, after work, you can return home and come back together as a couple there.

4. Address any disagreements as soon as possible
Arguments may well have become more frequent. Leaving them to fester will cause resentment to build up. Often we think we have forgotten our last disagreement only to find the bad feelings it caused rear up again during the next one. Once you have calmed down, come together to talk about it. Remember to talk about how you feel (I feel…) rather than accusing the other (You are….)

5. Simple kindness and affection is important
Be mindful of your relationship and the strain you are both under. Affection is important – hugging, telling your partner you love them. Take time to consciously remember what you love about your partner, then tell them about it. Small acts of kindness towards your partner will make significant differences in how you both feel. Perhaps a loving note; a cup of tea; a bunch of flowers; running a bath for your partner or simply showing interest in them and how they are.

6. Date night at home!
You may be stuck at home, but you can still arrange a special evening together. Cook a meal; play a game; go for a walk; watch a movie. Perhaps you can even get creative and find something new to do together at home. Use this extra time you have together to truly get to know and understand one another. You can increase your emotional intimacy this way. Make it fun, you could each disclose something your partner doesn’t yet know about you, risk being vulnerable. Vulnerability brings greater intimacy and allows you to create an even deeper connection.

Most importantly, realise and admit that this is a difficult time. Give yourself a break. If problems arise that seem too challenging to resolve then seek help from a professional therapist. You may need one or two sessions with a trained counsellor to understand and work through the issue. Call 01227 903 503 to speak with someone about the possibilities.

Seeking help isn’t a failure, it is often a necessary preventative measure. Resolving problems before they get too big and learning better ways to communicate are key in helping relationships not only survive, but thrive.