In this strange and unusual time, many of us have found ourselves locked down with our partners and spending more time together than ever before. Spending such a vast amount of time with any other person is testing enough, let alone when we are dealing with our own pressures that Covid-19 has presented us all with, in one way or another. So here are some top tips to keeping your relationship healthy!
1) Own Your Own Feelings
Whenever I speak to people about their relationships, I always stress the importance of owning your own feelings. So often we project our stress, mood and overall wellbeing onto the people closest to us. If we are tired, overwhelmed, bored or frustrated, we have a tendency to become over-sensitive, defensive and easily irritated. It is from this place that so many arguments arise within couples. Start to become aware of your state of mind each day and take time to check in with yourself. How are you feeling today? If you are having one of those days where negativity is creeping in, take a second to pause and acknowledge it to yourself and to your partner. Gently communicate how you feel so they are aware of it too with a simple statement such as, “I’m feeling overwhelmed today”. Then take time to do what you need to do to reset. Whether that’s meditating, going for a walk alone, having a long bath, or getting a sweat going with an online workout – invest in your emotional wellbeing and know that doing so is not selfish, it is the exact opposite. Similarly, be aware of your partners behaviour and general mood and try to consider that if they seem short or abrupt in their behaviour towards you, there may be something else triggering them. Refrain from taking things too personally. Check in with your partner, ask them how they are and offer them a safe space to open up to you without judgment.
2) Give Each Other Space
This seems both obvious and impossible at the same time. We all know how important space is within a relationship and now, more so than ever, do we need to ensure we are getting enough ‘me’ time. Scheduling in alone time is the key here. Choose an hour in the day where you commit to being in separate rooms, closing the door and not interrupting one another. If you have kids, take turns in doing this. During this hour (or more), do something that is entirely for you. whether it’s catching up with your best friend, reading a book, or watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
If you are both working from home then make sure you give yourselves designated work spaces. Ideally, your spaces will be in separate rooms, but if that’s not possible then at least allocate separate corners of the dining table. Doing so will allow you to retain focus and avoid getting frustrated by the unintended but constant distractions or interruptions.
3) Inject Some Fun
A psychological study found that the overall quality of relationships is linked to how many novel or arousing experiences a couple share together. Without the ability to venture outside, it is all too easy to get trapped in the mundane bubble of home life which makes it near impossible to share new and exciting experiences. We must make a conscious effort to find joy, fun and excitement together at home. Creating date nights at home is an easy and effective way to do this. Make each other feel special by taking it in turns organising the evening; cooking one another a delicious meal, lighting some candles, playing some music and changing the ambience will be a welcome change to the daily rhythm and help to reignite any spark you might have lost. There are so many ways to find joy together at home as long as you make an effort to commit to it; maybe you want to organise a theme night (Mexican Night anyone?) or make cocktails at home together with a feel good album playing in the background, or you could simply find a workout that you can both enjoy together. Whatever it is you choose to do, make sure to put your phones away, let go of any external worries and give each other some undivided attention.
4) Practice Gratitude for Each Other
Cultivating gratitude has such a powerful effect on every area of our lives including our relationships. How often do you actually take the time to say thank you to your partner? Yet how often do you point out when they’ve forgotten to do something, or not got it quite right? Start to make conscious effort to refocus your attention on all the wonderful things your partner does for you, no matter how small, and acknowledge it out loud. To avoid getting irritated with each other, focus your attention on gratitude for each other. Whether it’s emptying the dishwasher, letting you sleep in while they get up with the kids, or giving you a compliment, simply saying “thank you” each time will transform your relationship. It works in 2 ways; it makes your partner feel valued and appreciated and it keeps your attention focused on the positives.
5) Show interest
Remember that both you and your partner are not able to be at work, amongst colleagues, or spending time with friends. Now, it is more important than ever to take the time to show interest in each other’s work or hobbies. Simply remember to be each other’s best friend because after all is said and done, it is the friendship between you that is the glue holding you together.