All relationships always come with trials and tribulations. These can become even more challenging when external factors are added in. For many couples, the pandemic was this factor.
Experiencing lockdown hit a lot of peoples' love lives harder than they could have ever imagined. On top of the stress of the world, there were still regular relationship stressors to overcome.
But it's not impossible to have a thriving relationship during these times─ even with pandemic worries. Keep reading to find out 13 tips for how you can maintain a healthy relationship during a pandemic.
1. Strengthen Communication
On any normal day, it's extremely important to have strong and open communication to keep a healthy relationship. But with the pandemic, you'll need to put even more effort into making sure you and your partner are on the same page. New issues have been added to your plates that you may have never experienced together before so it's important to share feelings around them.
Effective communication focuses on both verbal and nonverbal elements. Just because you might not have said you didn't like something your spouse did doesn't mean you didn't make a gesture or face of disapproval. Letting situations like these linger can turn small hiccups into big problems.
Being aware at this level is important for also being able to identify poor communication. Signs of poor communication may include things like:
- Being passive-aggressive
- Being overly aggressive
- Shutting down instead of expressing yourself openly
- Using the silent treatment
- Being dismissive
- Being argumentative
- Not listening to the other person
Eliminating these communication issues is just as important as building healthy habits around communicating. Also, remember to talk about issues that may be currently affecting your situation. Aim to be a nonjudgemental open ear for your partner when they need it.
2. Make Time For Each Other
The pandemic changed a lot of people's work situations which made it more difficult to make time for loved ones. Some people started working from home which is a huge change they needed to get acclimated to. Others are considered essential workers and actually needed to be at their jobs even more.
Both scenarios can cause wedges in your relationship. For instance, people who started working from home may have felt like this would allow them more time to spend with family. However, many employees found difficulty in working from home, such as setting boundaries to efficiently juggle family and home life.
If you don't live together, you'll need to be proactive about making space for your relationship. Make sure that you're utilizing different lines of communication including phone calls, texts, and video chats to fill in the spaces when you can't physically be together.
Whether you're working from home or serving longer hours, there will need to be a discussion about setting aside designated quality time. This way your partner doesn't become intrusive when you need to focus. Meanwhile, they won't feel neglected and you won't be frustrated if you still have your time to rest.
3. Give Each Other Space
On the other side of needing to make time to see each other more, you have couples who are struggling with seeing each other too much. If you live together during lockdown then you already know how challenging it can be to spend copious amounts of time with someone. This doesn't mean that you love them any less─ but everyone needs alone time.
Both of you are well aware of the changes of how much time you'll be around each other. In this case, it shouldn't be awkward to set up some boundaries that allow for each of you to get the amount of time alone you need to reset and recharge. Understand that even if you partner asks for some space, it's more than likely not about anything negative pertaining to you.
4. Don't Take Things Personally
This is the perfect time to mention the next point. 84% of adults reported feeling at least one stressed-related emotion due to the pandemic. Evidence of these statistics can clearly be seen in many relationships around the country.
Try to be understanding about the fact that there may be things that you and your partner will need that you might not have needed before. You might also experience sides of them that you haven't really experienced before. A lot of this depends on how long you've been together.
But regardless of time together, it's important to understand how these trying times might affect them. It's best not to take things personally if your partner is stressed or anxious. Practice those healthy communication skills and figure out how you can support them through it.
5. Increase Self Care
Most couples don't have to worry about the pandemic just affecting their relationships. You also still need to consider your personal health. Neglecting your own needs can cause issues in how you show up as a partner.
One of the best tips for how to have a healthy relationship is to take care of yourself. The healthier, happier, and more balanced you are, the easier it is to pour into your relationship. Make sure you keep up with medical visits for your physical, mental and emotional health.
Also, be cautious if you go out of the house and follow your state's regulations for pandemic requirements. If you had medical issues prior to the pandemic, then it's even more important to set parameters in place that will keep you healthy. Here are some steps toward self-care you can take:
- Schedule necessary medical appointments
- Exercise regularly
- Get some fresh air daily
- Eat foods that boost your immune system
- Take up fun new hobbies
- Meditate often
- Start journaling
- Be intentional about the media you expose yourself to (TV, music, social media, etc.)
- Rest when needed
Stay on top of self care and encourage your partner to do so as well. Doing so can help both of you to show up as your best selves even during a pandemic.
6. Schedule Regular Check-Ins
One way to build healthy relationships is to stay on the same page. Sometimes couples struggle with this because they don't communicate enough. But this doesn't have to be difficult.
You and your loved one can know exactly how the other person is feeling by doing regular check-ins with each other. Checking in regularly could be as simple as a weekly conversation about your thoughts and emotions. It can also be a quick daily question like "On a scale of 1-10, where are you emotionally today?".
Normalize regular check-ins so you both can navigate each other's daily emotional states more intentionally. Taking the other person's feelings into consideration can also strengthen trust in your relationship.
7. Plan Fun Things Together
Some people may become overwhelmed and bored with the monotony of being in a pandemic. These emotions could turn into negative behaviors that leak into the relationship. You can avoid this by planning fun things to do together often.
Of course, there are restrictions during the pandemic. However, this doesn't mean you can't be creative and still have date nights. Think about some indoor or safe date options that you can your partner can enjoy to keep things exciting.
8. Go Outside
Many people don't think about the negative effects of staying indoors. Getting some fresh air is essential to how you function. Although this might not seem like relationship advice─it is.
Again, the more you take care of yourself, the easier it is to be a good spouse. Giving yourself some time outdoors can be just what you need for a clear head and open mind. Staying inside too long can have negative effects on your mood, sleep partners, and overall emotional capacity.
Avoid these symptoms affecting your love life by simply taking a quick walk or sitting outside your house daily. This could be a great opportunity for you and your partner to schedule some quality time. Also, remember to get adequate amounts of sunlight for Vitamin D needs.
9. Develop Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is how we identify and manage our emotions, as well as those of others. Developing a keen sense of emotional intelligence can make you a more understanding, compassionate, and empathetic partner. It can also reduce a lot of frustration in the relationship overall. Here are some ways you can exercise your EQ muscle:
- Becoming more self-aware
- Being aware of how others around you feel
- Doing self-evaluations regularly
- Being realistic with yourself (and your emotions)
- Practicing empathy and compassion
- Being open and honest
- Taking care of your physical and mental states
Getting to a point where you have high emotional intelligence is a journey in itself. But you can make small efforts every day to improve your EQ.
10. Use Social Media Wisely
Romantic partnerships in the digital age have become more complicated than ever before. Technology has added a new layer of worries for some couples which is mostly due to the usage of social media. The negative effects of cell phones are invading people's relationships before they even know it.
Recent studies show that 23% of participants say they've experienced jealously or uncertainty in their relationship due to how their partner interacts with others online. It's your responsibility to make sure that you don't provoke feelings of distrust in your partner. Stay hyperaware of how and how often you use these social platforms and be honest with your partner.
Another thing to watch out for is comparing your relationship to others. In the same study mentioned earlier, 28% of all social media users admitted to sharing things about their current relationship or dating life. You might be watching people thrive in their relationship but just know these are glimpses of their lives.
In reality, we never know what is happening behind closed doors of someone else's life. Avoid holding your relationship up to anyone else's standards but your own. Talk to your partner about the characteristics of a healthy relationship that you want to develop.
11. Be Intentional With Intimacy
Stress is a known killer of libido. At times when stress levels are sky high, it can be difficult to maintain healthy relationships. The need for intimacy is sometimes neglected by one or both people and this can cause a downward spiral.
Be proactive with making sure that you and your partner are tending to the romance that you both crave. Carve out time to be intimate and be understanding of each other's needs. If you're having issues with this, consider reaching out to a professional for counseling or ask a medical expert for tips and solutions.
12. Build a Solid Support System
The truth about relationships that many people get wrong is that you don't need to play every role for your partner. And sometimes you just can't. It's essential to have other supportive relationships around as well.
Keep in contact with family and have meaningful conversations with friends often. This is another great way to give each other space healthily. It's important to still have your own life.
As a unit, you and your loved one can reach out for professional support for the relationship. This could be someone like a marriage counselor or relationship therapist. Find someone who is a good mediator that you both can trust. You may also want to have separate mental health counselors to make sure you're continuing to stay balanced and grow as a person.
13. Stay Committed
Even when things start to get difficult, you must stay committed. Don't lose hope when things get a little rocky. As long as you and your partner agree to put in mutual effort things will turn out alright.
Having a Healthy Relationship During a Pandemic Is Possible
No matter how tough things may seem now, there are multiple ways to work through most situations. The most important part is that you and your partner both stay committed to building a healthy relationship.
Use these tips as a starting point and remember to take it one day at a time. If you need assistance with your wellbeing and healthcare options at this time, feel free to contact us today.