This could be a good thing, but for many couples, it puts pressure on the relationship which may lead to stress, conflict and in a few pressure cooker situations, even leading to relationship breakdowns.
Although it’s normal for relationships to struggle during times of stress, here are some tips to avoid relationship breakdowns during COVID-19.
Tips for preventing COVID-19 relationship meltdowns for couples
1. Use positive communication
Use “I messages” which are non-threatening such as “I feel frustrated when you leave the dishes in the sink because it makes the house look messy. Would you please put the dishes in the dishwasher?”
That’s much easier to hear than, “It’s so annoying when you leave your dishes in the sink!”
Thank them for doing little things. If you focus on what you appreciate, you’ll find it easier to talk about the more difficult subjects.
Amidst all the chaos around the global pandemic right now, maybe you could start taking baby steps to eliminate normal relationship problems like lack of appreciation or gratitude in a relationship.
If you look at things from a different standpoint, hopefully, Coronavirus chaos could strengthen your relationship.
3. Make time for connection
Even if you can’t go out to dinner, you can have a special romantic dinner at home with candles and a glass of wine.
You can have a picnic in a park or your balcony.
Do a puzzle together or take a long walk.
Look for creative ways to build a love connection. Lack of connection is what really escalates most of the relationship breakdowns.
It would be a good idea to check these marriage breakdown signs to take the helpful steps to revive a relationship devoid of emotional, mental or physical intimacy.
4. Listen to each other
Cut each other some slack, understand and empathize with each other, while honing your listening skills. Toss out talking over each other in your interactions.
Avoid solving the problem, lecturing or defensiveness.
Reiterate your spouse’s point of view, and be forthcoming with questions around their viewpoint.
Understand what they’re trying to communicate and ask, “Is that what you mean?”
Tell your partner, “Tell me more.” Or “I understand why you would feel that way.”
These statements show empathy and make the other person feel heard. This can be the cornerstone for building a lasting connection during stressful times and will break the chances of relationship breakdowns.
5. Meditate and exercise every day
Research has shown that meditation and exercises lower stress and anxiety. There are several great meditation apps that can teach you how to meditate.
Headspace and Calm are great ones, to begin with if you strive to stress less, increase your happiness, live a more peaceful life, and get healthier and happier.
Meditation and working out are small but significant ways of finding tranquility, perspective, and compassion.
Of course, the upshot would be a healthy body and mind, alongside the prevention of relationship breakdowns.
6. Give each other space
Just because you’re in the same house doesn’t mean you need to do everything together. Make a pact with your partner for some downtime alone. It will go a long way if you want to avoid dealing with the grief and marriage breakdown as the ripple effects of being clingy and stifling.
Being needy or unhealthily co-dependent is not romantic or cute. So, make sure that neither of you enables this behavior.
As partners, embrace the art of creating a “me” time somewhere between the “we” time.
Relationship breakdowns occur for a slew of reasons and lack of space is not an uncommon one. Interestingly, according to Google Ngram, the phrase “need some space” started to gain popularity only after the 1980s.
Having some alone time enables each of you to focus on yourself which in turn keeps your relationship balanced.
Time to yourself creates opportunities to reach out to friends and family so that you can have support from people other than your partner.
7. Finding an online couples therapist
One essential tip for couples to avoid relationship breakdowns is seeking professional help.
If you find that any of the strategies aren’t helping your relationship, and you’re very concerned about the strain on your relationship, another option is finding an online couples therapist.
Finally, know that this new reality is not permanent
Although our lives have changed significantly due to COVID-19, at some point our lives will go back to normal.
Instead of wallowing in self-pity and feeding our paranoia, we can use this time to work on our communication with our partner, learn new skills while in lockdown to decrease our stress, get a headstart in self-improvement, and prevent relationship breakdowns at all costs.
We can make plans for a future when we won’t have to social distance.
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.
Jill Barnett Kaufman, founder of the Princeton Counseling and Parenting Center, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a Certified Parent Educator and a Distance Credentialed Counselor. She is an experienced clinician with over 20 years of experience of working in the mental health and parent education fields. Her expertise is working with individuals, couples and families on a variety of issues such as communication, emotional intimacy, parenting, infidelity, divorce, pre-marriage and life transitions.
(Jill Barnett is also listed in Best Marriage Therapists in Princeton)