Successful relationships take work. Even in the best of times, couples have to navigate communication breakdowns, stress, compromise, and the inevitable hiccups that arise from merging two lives together. Introduce a worldwide pandemic, economic uncertainty, working from home, and physical isolation from friends, family, and anyone who isn’t your significant other, and it’s no wonder that some couples have struggled or even called it quits since the start of COVID.
As we approach almost a full year of love while locked down, how we prioritize our romantic relationships has changed. While we all work to embrace the #newnormal, how can we make changes and build time to help our relationships thrive?
Cohabitation in Close Quarters
When the world shut down in March of 2020, many couples had to adjust to seeing their partner 24/7 for the first time in their relationship. What may have started as a fun, all-day lovefest has undoubtedly soured for some. As the adage goes, “distance makes the heart grow fonder,” but tensions can arise when distance can’t be achieved. Even if you don’t have a lot of square footage to share, make time for yourself without your honey. Pick up a hobby that you can do in a different part of the house, start an online book club or fantasy league with friends, or get outside for physical activity and socially distanced fun with your platonic pals.
And don’t be afraid to let your partner know when you need some time by yourself. Of course, we want to spend our days and nights with the one we love more than anyone else in the whole wide world, but quality time away is important for our mental and emotional well-being. Just like we need our partner to be there for us, it’s essential to communicate when we need them not to be there too.
Stop Fighting Over Finances
Money stress is the most significant cause of relationship strife in North America. COVID-19 has dramatically impacted the financial situation for countless families worldwide, and spiking cases and ongoing lockdowns have continued to hurt people’s bottom lines. Financial fitness is a family affair, so make sure to keep open lines of communication when it comes to managing your money. Work with your partner to create a budget and see where you can make adjustments to your monthly spending. There are loads of great budgeting tools and apps that can take the guesswork out of staying on top of your funds. Consider making a date night out of going over bills and get your partner on board with saving.
Troubleshoot Your Triggers
Stressful situations are bound to arise. What is important is knowing when and how to keep emotions in check. A study found that couples subjected to stressful situations reacted much more harshly with their romantic partner than those interacting in a low-stress environment. In particular, men had a much more challenging time staying calm and supportive when faced with added stress.
Communication is vital in relationships, but angry confrontations do much more harm than good. Check your emotional state and tone when you talk to your partner. If you find that you are getting angry, bring yourself down and take a few deep breaths before saying something you might regret. Learn to recognize your stress triggers before you blow up and take steps to deescalate. Make a pact with your lover that when conversations start to get heated, you will both step away and regroup so you can come back together with clearer heads.
Remember the Romance
Couples who can find novelty and fun during isolation have a leg up in the love department. An online study completed in 2020 shows that romantic partners with a higher baseline of happiness are more successful at cohabitation during COVID than people who struggle with their own happiness. Even though days can seem to blur together, it’s important to make time for romance. Prioritize sexual connection, intimacy, and fun, and focus on what you love about your significant other.