How to Deal With the Relationship Changes Caused by the Pandemic

Despite doom and gloom predictions of deteriorating relationships, when we asked if their relationship changed since the coronavirus outbreak, the vast majority felt their relationship was largely unchanged (74%). There were more people (17%) who indicated that their relationship had gotten “a little” or “a lot” better than there were respondents who felt it got worse (5%).

Of course, the fact that they didn’t notice any change doesn’t mean things didn’t change. The good and the bad may be balancing each other out. That is, getting to spend more time with the people we love may counterbalance many of the strains created during a global pandemic. A large-scale longitudinal study of more than 1,500 adults primarily in their mid-30s found that 57% felt too distant in their relationship and wanted more closeness with their partner. In other words, when couples endure hardships together, their relationship may take a few steps backward. But, the benefit of each other’s support and companionship allows them to take a few steps forward and may leave us close to where we started.

    Make a plan:

    Sit down with your partner to discuss everything that’s on your plate, and make a plan for how you’re going to handle it as a team. Create a shared calendar with all of your tasks and responsibilities, and carve out specific times for when you’re going to do them.

    Be intentional about time spent together:

    You’re probably spending more time together than ever before. As much as you love your partner, this can quickly lead to tension and frustration. Set some healthy boundaries:

    • If you’re both working from home, carve out separate workspaces. If you can close a door between the two of you, that’s ideal.

    • Try to give each other space during the day. If you can, limit your verbal communication. Try texting instead.

    • It’s normal to need alone time. Be creative about how you can carve out that time. For example, maybe you can trade off taking the morning shift with the children so you give each other the chance to lie in bed alone for a few precious moments.

    • Be creative with date nights. Sticking to (or starting) a date night tradition can bring some much-needed joy and anticipation into your relationship. Try visiting a museum online, reading a book to each other, or cooking an elaborate meal together.

    Broaden your support system:

    Your partner is just one person, no matter how amazing, and Kraft advises against leaning on any single individual for all your emotional needs just because you’re under the same roof.

    “It’s important for both people in the relationship to stay connected with family and friends who can be available for them, especially as time wears on with continuing physical distancing measures.

    “Talk with other people on the phone and use technology to keep your support network intact,” he says.

    Plan something fun:

    Though couples’ pre-pandemic plans may be canceled or postponed right now, Kraft suggests making new, different ones. “You can take a drive together, plan a special meal, or, if you have the resources, even make a small purchase that you can both enjoy.

    “Apps can help couples virtually get together with friends for dinners, game nights, or movies. The important thing is to create things to look forward to, even if they’re small.”

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