Lockdown is proving to be the ultimate stress test for relationships worldwide, here’s how to make sure yours survives…
There’s no two ways about it, getting through the coronavirus pandemic is tough. Navigating relationships isn’t always easy under the best of circumstances, so if you’re having to do lockdown while separated from your bae, we’ve got your back.
We’ve compiled our top tips for keeping things sweet until we reach the other side.
Firstly, let’s get straight to this one and acknowledge that this situation is difficult, so try and manage expectations and remind yourself that there will likely be bumps along the way. The situation is stressful and many of us are living in a state of high alert, so it’s only natural for emotions to be somewhat heightened. Of course, most relationships will have arguments and disagreements under normal circumstances, but it’s how we handle conflict that is key.
Neither one of you is at fault for this crisis so allow each other some time to vent about what’s going on – a certain amount of venting is healthy and normal and doesn’t always need to be solution focussed. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to avoid unnecessary conflict at the moment, here’s how to avoid getting into an argument.
Think about how you can still enjoy each other’s company while you are apart. Make full use of FaceTime or Houseparty so that you can see each other – being able to read each other’s expressions and body language are invaluable and reassuring. Have a regular date night where you watch a film together or listen to your favourite music and talk about everything other than coronavirus. Stay connected with all aspects of their life, ask about their friends and family and stay interested in what they are doing whether they are still working or keeping busy at home.
Try and aim for meaningful rather than excessive communication, so maybe simple but sweet ‘good morning’ and ‘goodnight’ messages to remind each other that you care as you begin and close each day and save up some stuff for when you can properly connect. And try not to get caught up in messages being left on ‘read’ or you notice they’re online but haven’t messaged you.
Look after yourself
It’s easy to focus on wanting to keep our partners happy but remember that your wellbeing is equally as important. Take time out for yourself and follow the advice here. Don’t give yourself a hard time if you’re not constantly pining after your partner and are coping pretty well; it’s not just okay, but healthy to exist as secure and separate people outside of your relationship rather than be completely dependent on each other.
Take the time to really catch up with your own family and friends, especially if some of these have been a little neglected since you’ve been part of a couple and it’s more than okay to enjoy these other connections. Although we don’t recommend over analysing every aspect of your relationship, be honest with yourself if this time apart has potentially raised flags anywhere for you that you just can’t shake and you feel there are deep-rooted issues that can no longer be overlooked.
Respect each other
It may be tough but acknowledge that people react and behave differently in difficult situations and unless some seriously concerning behaviour crops up, that’s okay. Respect each other’s coping strategies as there really isn’t just one definitive way to get through this emotionally.
There will be days when you are both completely on the same page and other times when you are not, so be aware that while you might have a day when you’re feeling really positive, your partner might be struggling. Whilst being open and honest with each other about how you are feeling is key, there will be times when you feel sad and lonely so try not to get too immersed in negativity and keep reminding yourself that this isn’t a permanent situation and ultimately, solid and healthy relationships are worth holding on to.
Keep things future focussed
It’s good to be excited about when you can be back together again so start making some plans about what you can do together and where you can go. It could be as simple as getting back to your favourite eating spot, a lazy sunday together under a duvet watching Netflix or being able to book a break together.
Keeping an eye on the future can help make us feel secure and remind us that there will be an end to this situation.
When you finally meet up
A slo-mo reunion and then it’s all sunshine and roses right? Maybe not, as you’ve been through a lot and emotions will be running high, so when you are reunited it’s likely to be intense. No one can maintain such strong feelings so once the intensity and relief at finally being reunited fades, it’s completely normal to experience a crash or feel pretty overwhelmed. Ensure you speak to each other about this beforehand so you both manage expectations and be kind to each other while you readjust to your normal routines.
If you have had minor disagreements, this probably isn’t the best time to bring those up. Enjoy the moment and consider if actually, unless they are serious issues, are they even worth worrying about now? If they do need addressing, wait for things to calm before dealing with them.
Finally, remember that many couples manage successful long-distance relationships so this is achievable and it won’t be forever.