All relationships take work and maintaining a happy relationship is tricky at the best of times. Add the pressure of living through the Covid-19 pandemic, and even the strongest of partnerships will feel the strain.
Overnight, our worlds changed and our homes became offices, virtual classrooms, Zoom social hangouts and workout spaces. Many people continue to battle with financial worries, disrupted routines, childcare issues and the lack of physical contact with friends and family.
Relate, the leading relationships charity in the UK, recently published their research looking into how close relationships are faring under lockdown. It is a mixed picture. While an uplifting 61% of people said that, “lockdown has made them realise relationships are the most important thing in their lives”, nearly 10% of respondents have decided to end their relationship.
We all want to feel that the connection we share with our loved one is happy and healthy, and this is a concern for many people I speak to. So, here are my tips to help keep your relationship on track - now and in the future:
1. ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THE CURRENT SITUATION IS DIFFICULT
Real relationships have ups and downs at the best of times so it makes sense that the ongoing restrictions are likely to have an impact. By accepting our ‘normal’ is not possible, and that we are living through extraordinary circumstances, we can lower our expectations and take the pressure off. This paves the way to find new approaches to make things work.
2. GIVE EACH OTHER SPACE
I realise that during lockdown, this is not easy. However, partners who spend every waking minute together are going to get irritable and distracted. This is particularly true if you are both trying to work remotely amid increased interruptions and noise. Be respectful of each other's time and space and, if possible, designate separate areas in your home. Not an option? Then make sure you take time out to be your own, such as going for a walk. 'Retreating' for a while helps us to recharge so we can give our best to those around us.
3. MAKE A PLAN
Usual routines are out the window so create a new schedule to give a sense of control of your own environment. And looking ahead, discuss future plans you would like to make. Book dates to visit friends and family, or research some day trips or UK holidays. Having things to look forward to is hugely beneficial for us, and our loved ones.
4. DO NOT BOTTLE THINGS UP!
It is vitally important that we express our needs and feelings, and do not assume the other person knows what you are thinking. None of us have lived through a pandemic before, so we do not have previous experiences to draw on. Talk to each other and check in regularly to discuss your worries. You could also try practicing gratitude - a sincere “thank you” will bond you much more than criticism. Talk together about what you’re grateful for.
5. CELEBRATE THE GOOD STUFF
Even though life may be feeling difficult right now, it is important to genuinely hear and acknowledge positive things when they happen. In fact, various studies show that how we relate to people during good times is as important, if not more, than how we respond during tough times. It is a greater indicator of successful relationships if we fully engage and genuinely share the other person’s joy. Try it the next time a loved one starts to tell you some good news. Stop what you are doing, look them in the eye and ask them questions. Congratulate them for five minutes and appreciate the deeper sense of connection you will feel.
6. KEEP YOUR CLOSE CONNECTIONS CLOSE
You will always be stronger and more capable when you reach out to the network of people who care for you. While we may have been practising social distancing, many have realised their emotional bonds with loved ones have strengthened;. 43% of respondents to the Relate research said they felt ‘emotionally closer’ to their parents as a result of talking to them more in lockdown. Be proactive about staying in touch on the phone or video-chat regularly. You will feel supported and connected, rather than isolated, and less reliant on your partner for all your emotional needs.
7. LIVE, LAUGH AND LOVE
The world may feel very challenging right now, so it is incredibly important we make an effort to keep our sense of humour and find things to laugh at together - check out my everylife blog: ‘Not Just Child’s Play: Why Being Playful is Good for Grown Ups’ Let your significant other know just how much they mean to you and the difference they make to your life. Plan a date night such as cooking a special meal together or virtually visiting a museum online. Check out www.whatsonstage.com for the latest listings of plays and concerts you can stream for free. Sharing happy memories builds closeness and trust and your relationship will continue to stay strong and grow.
I passionately believe we all deserve to have a brilliant, healthy, happy life full of meaning and love. To find out more about how I can help you to thrive, CLICK HERE or CONTACT ME to book a FREE consultation today.
© Kate Gare, everylife 2021