We are now well into the throes of social isolation due to the global pandemic, and whether your experience thus far has been mostly positive or mostly negative, it’s likely that challenges around how to maintain a relationship may be starting to arise.
If you are self-isolating at home with your significant other, be it a longtime spouse, a steady partner, or a new relationship, the romantic fantasy that may have existed for a few days of what quarantine may be starting to fade.
Perhaps now you are left wondering how to maintain a relationship and what to do as a couple during social isolation.
With no definite end in sight, it seems important to discuss tips for a better marriage, alongside techniques and tactics for staying sane and staying happy, during social isolation with your partner.
Protect your relationship and make it last
To help you navigate these new relationship waters here’s some marriage advice as a guide to help you and your significant other cohabitate together with the most ease and grace as possible.
Remember, these are unprecedented times where how to maintain a relationship is a question on the minds of lots of couples.
As individuals and as a global culture, we’ve never experienced anything like this before.
Because of this, there is a lot of stress and anxiety in the air right now. One of the most important things we can do, both for ourselves and for the people we are living with, is to remember that adjustment takes time and we are all doing the best we can.
Having said that, without further adieu, here is marriage advice on “how to maintain a relationship during social isolation”.
1. Find personal space
We’re not used to being at home all day, every day and we’re definitely not used to being at home all day, every day with our significant other.
Because of this, it’s important that you both find time and space where you can be alone. Whether it’s a bedroom, a porch, or a table in the corner, make sure you are getting enough time and space that is yours and yours alone.
Use this as a place to rest and recharge so that when you are with your partner, you can show up happier and more grounded. Do this as often as you need and don’t be offended when your partner does the same.
2. Create a daily structure
Normally, our daily structure is created around work and social obligations. We wake up early in order to make it to work on time, we are productive during the day in order to meet friends for happy hour or be home for dinner, and we use our time during the week wisely in order to play on the weekend.
The same wisdom is effective when it comes to following advice on how to maintain a relationship during times like these.
Right now, with that structure out the window, it’s more important than ever for us to create our own schedule. This will help you stay focused and productive and as a result, more able to show up well for yourself and for your relationship.
A helpful tool for any relationship, and especially a relationship in quarantine, is communication. As you navigate this time, regularly check in with your partner.
How are both of you feeling?
What do you need?
Keep the channels of communication open and remember not to take things too personally. Instead, listen openly when your partner is speaking, try to understand where they are coming from, and remember that they too are doing their best.
4. Give grace for whatever comes up
These are unique times. Breakdowns may be occurring more often than normally right now. But don’t worry, it’s a sign of the times.
This is a high-stress situation and it’s important to give yourself and your partner grace for whatever behaviors and emotions come up.
5. Have date nights
It’s easy to forget about date nights right now. You’re spending all of your time with your partner anyway, right? So isn’t every night date night?
The answer is no. In order to keep the relationship spark alive, make plans to do fun and romantic things together.
Keep each other motivated and in shape by working out together.
Exercising together creates a bond; you’ll both feel good in your bodies, and chances are, it will lead to camaraderie, laughter, and maybe even sex.
Exercise boosts confidence and endorphins, making it a great daily activity for couples to do together.
8. Maintain hygiene
Don’t let your personal care, health and hygiene plummet just because you don’t have to go anywhere. Remember, you’re living with your partner and this means they get to see you all day, every day.
Stay clean, stay fresh, and remember to change your clothes regularly. When you look good, you feel good, and this is likely to affect the energy in your home.
9. When you really need to, use headphones as a buffer
If you live in close quarters and find you need some time to yourself, put in some earbuds and listen to music, a podcast, or an audiobook.
It’s a nice escape from reality and transports you to your own inner world. This way, you and your partner can be together in the same room but you’ll feel miles apart. (Just be careful not to overuse this tool or use it as a way to “check out” of the relationship.)
10. Remember, this too shall pass
Things may feel overwhelming right now with no end in sight, but you don’t need to go crazy and start planning for the next five years of shelter-in-place. Whether it’s a few more weeks or a few more months, this too shall pass and you’ll soon be back out in the world.
Reminding yourself of this may help keep you sane and it can help you to appreciate this time together with your loved one all that much more.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Nancy Ryan is a Licensed Marriage & Family therapist, Certified Gottman Therapist and CEO of Relationship Therapy Center in Roseville, CA and Fair Oaks, CA and online in California. Therapists at RTC help individuals deal with anxiety, depression and self esteem issues; Couples improve their relationship, help coparent, and blended families adjust; Children and Teens to process their emotions and develop coping skills. We help with all areas of life and relationships.
Nancy has been featured in media including Fox 40, KFBK radio, Cox Communications, Psych Central, Elephant Journal, Bustle, Practice of the Practice Podcast, Practice of Therapy Podcast, and Grow a Group Practice Podcast. She is available as a relationship expert for print, radio and TV.
(Nancy Ryan is also listed in Best Marriage Therapists in Fair Oaks)