How to help your relationship survive lockdown/self isolation
One week on and we’re all still in lockdown, only going out for essential purposes.
And whilst we’ll all be doing our best to get through this (couples at home together, a family trying to juggle work and kids, a group of friends living as housemates) - working from home, supporting our families, homeschooling, figuring finances out etc….our relationships will be under huge pressure, at the same time as being critical to all of us in getting through this.
And not just the relationships of those that may have already been finding things tough…EVERYONE will be under a new kind of pressure that has not been felt before. This is completely new territory for all of us.
The hardest bit for everyone? Not knowing how long it will go on for.
So what can you do to minimise any tensions, and diffuse them if they do happen?
Accept these circumstances are going to be testing for everyone, not just yourself:
It helps you as soon as you can accept that it’s going to be a tough time for everyone, including yourself. Make sure that you are talking to friends and family lots, lift each others spirits…especially on days that you are finding difficult…it’s guaranteed that you won’t be the only one.
If you can also accept that you are likely to have arguments with your partner, and focus on how you react to them rather than the content, this will help you. It’s how you deal with it that will count.
Always remember that different people deal with things differently…and respect this. Understanding where you and your partner differ here will undoubtedly help you - for example, you may want to know the latest on Coronavirus daily…but your partner prefers not to. Respect this with each other.
Don’t make assumptions about how your partner feels about anything:
These are unprecedented times for everyone, including you in your relationship. You may have been through tough times before, but nothing on this scale. It will be a totally new experience for both of you.
Never assume that you both feel the same about something, especially not in times of significant pressure.
Assumption can breed resentment as it lays down false expectations with the other person.
Make sure that you talk openly and honestly. Be clear about your feelings so as you both understand. And keep judgements to yourself. Be as objective as possible and respect each others opinions.
We all cope differently in different situations, and under different pressures.
Keep talking and communicating with each other:
It would be easy for us to bottle things up in a time of stress and uncertainty. It can seem easier to “get on with it”. And when we’re feeling scared or upset, we tend to keep it to ourselves as this can show our vulnerability. But keeping an open dialogue is critical to minimising tensions between you and your partner, and it will keep your relationship solid.
Remember though, when anxiety levels are high we can experience strong reactions to things (anger, frustration, upset etc)….try to remain mindful of your reactions and responses to your partner.
If anxiety is an issue for you, make sure that you tell your partner that you are finding things harder than usual and that you may react in a way that is out of character for you. This may help ease the stress and any regret that you can feel on how you’ve reacted.
“It is very easy to slip into the blame game when we are stressed and it doesn't help anyone..."
Relationship psychotherapist Kate Moyle told The Independent: “Communication is key. Try and be as clear as possible with each other. If you are frustrated or stressed then try to use ‘I’ statements to communicate how you are feeling. ‘I feel’ is very different to ‘When you x, I x’ or ‘You make me feel’, it’s very easy to slip into the blame game when we are stressed and it doesn’t help anyone.”
Try to put big arguments and decisions on hold until we are out of this situation:
Although it is normal to expect some tension during this ongoing situation, you shouldn’t use it as a chance to vent all of your ongoing relationship issues. You will need to hold some things on the back burner for a future day. As has already been said, different people deal with situations differently, and will be able to function differently. This is to be expected and totally normal. Try not to push things that can wait.
The other thing to remember is that priorities change for everyone in times like this. You or your partner may have elderly or vulnerable relatives, and this may be all they can think of at the moment. Support each other with this.
Always pick your battles and the times when you have them.
Invest in you and your relationship too - not just work:
Set a routine, and define work spaces. Make sure that you are both clear on home life/work life so that you can separate the 2 and focus clearly.
Home and life admin, although done by one or other of your relationship in the past, may need to be shared when you are both trying to manage this situation…especially when you have children or other family members to look after. Set a time to do this and be clear on who is doing what and when.
And if you choose to do “home life” tasks in yours and your partners defined “work time”, remember that this is your choice, and that your partner can still be focussing on their work. You are not the same person.
And also remember that working from home doesn’t automatically mean that there is suddenly time to do all those jobs around the house…don’t pile more stress on top of stress.
Find activities that you both enjoy doing out of work and make time for these. Sitting watching TV every evening will soon become tiresome. Exercise, cooking, gardening, learning a new skill etc can all be things that you can plan into your “home life” time.
Be kind to each other and to yourself...unprecedented times. And if you need to talk to anyone, it's not just about Divorce here at The Divorce Partner, it's about relationships too. Call Emily on 07814009408. Or email on firstname.lastname@example.org