As we continue to face the COVID crisis, self-isolation and sheltering-in-place can cause rifts in our relationships. These unprecedented times are leading to a surge in relationship issues, with many couples faced with pandemic-related stress and anxiety as they try to navigate staying sane, healthy, and keeping their relationship together. Keep the love alive by taking time to pandemic-proof your relationship. Read on for three ways to strengthen your love relationship through this crisis.
1. Listen To Your Needs
The uncertainty of these times puts many of us on edge. This level of stress and anxiety affects our health as well as our relationships. If you’re living with your partner, these feelings can easily take hold and overwhelm both of you. When left unchecked, they may even cause you to lash out at your partner. Safeguard against this type of situation by making sure to listen to your own needs.
If you’re feeling especially stressed or anxious, take time to center yourself, stop what you’re doing, and meditate by paying attention to your breathing. Remember that caring for your needs will allow you to adopt a healthier state of mind, which will help you relate to your partner in a positive way.
2. Carve Out Personal Boundaries
Whether you’re working from home or you’re trying to fill your newfound free time with hobbies, don’t forget how important it is to set boundaries. Couples that usually spend time apart during the day may be overwhelmed having to quarantine with their partner for months on end. With our daily routines awry, it’s essential to set boundaries to protect personal space, both physically and emotionally.
While these boundaries may be difficult to define, this will help you both create a “new normal”.
For example, if you and your partner are working from home, try to section off separate areas that give you both the room you need to work in a quiet space separately. In addition to spending time apart, making time to plan romantic dates together will give both of you something to look forward to as you take time to strengthen your relationship in these confusing times.
3. Always Communicate
Though many couples get accustomed to each other’s behavior, there is no substitute for effective communication. Now more than ever, couples need to be able to share what they’re feeling. Make an effort to verbalize all of your thoughts and fears as we transition through this pandemic. While much is still uncertain about the future, being able to share your concerns and expectations with your partner will help to bring the two of you closer together.
Similarly, if you find that you’re experiencing certain issues with your partner, find a way to communicate them. Letting anger or discomfort fester will only result in a blow-up later on. Finding ways to air your concerns with each other may be uncomfortable at the moment, but it’s a necessary step in navigating the COVID crisis together.
Getting through these challenging times requires proactive thinking, intentional planning, and paying extra attention to your needs and those of your loved one. Pandemic-proof your love relationship with this guide. Take the necessary steps to keep love alive in the midst of this global pandemic.
Have you ever reacted to something that your loved one, a colleague or friend said to you in such a sharp and angry tone that you even surprised yourself? When certain buttons are pushed it can create feelings of anger. In an instant you may find yourself unleashing your emotions as if you were an angry tiger suddenly jolted out of a deep slumber. Such is the difficulty of managing feelings when your instinct to react defensively is triggered.
For some people angry outbursts may be an infrequent occurrence. For others irritability and quick anger occur too often. While the emotion of anger is normal and appropriate in certain situations, when anger gets out of control it creates problems.
The key to managing your emotions including anger; is to be aware of your emotions while allowing wisdom and logic to guide your responses. If you are thinking, “That’s easily said, not easily done.” You are correct, it takes practice but it is indeed possible to gain control of your emotions. Here’s how:
Press The Pause Button
You may have heard the suggestion to count to 10 to help calm yourself. There is something useful about that approach. It allows you a window of time to apply the brakes so you can BREATHE. When you intentionally pause and breathe for a while, it gives your brain and your body a chance to calm down. It allows you to get back in the driver’s seat so that you can think through your next response.
Take A “Big Picture” Perspective
Consider the current situation, how does the reaction you are on the verge of unleashing fit into the bigger picture of your values and your goals? For example if your spouse has just said something irritating and you are now livid, if you explode, does that explosion help or hinder in reaching the goals you have for your relationship?
Use Logic To Guide Your Response
The best way to respond is to acknowledge your emotions while allowing wisdom and logic to guide you. By doing so you will be able to honestly share your feelings in an appropriate way. When you are calm, you are more in control of what you say and how you say it. You are also in a better position to hear the other person in a more objective and compassionate manner.
Sometimes it takes a little while to reach this place of calm. It’s beneficial to allow yourself a time-out. Doing so gives you space and time to get back in control of your feelings. It also allows you the time to refocus your perspective on what is most important in your relationship. It also helps you to avoid getting caught up in petty arguments that in the long run can damage your relationship.
Learning how to manage your reactions when you become upset is challenging, but it is a very important skill that you can master. Pressing pause, looking at the big picture and responding in a logical manner are the steps to achieving this. Undoubtedly it will take time to restrain the natural instinct to lash out defensively. More than likely there will be times when you will fall back into old habits of reacting harshly. This does not mean that you are a failure at this. Just keep working at it. Your relationship is worth it.
Put yourself in the driver’s seat and express gratitude. When you do, you will positively influence your emotions and your love relationship.
Cultivate Gratitude and Change Yourself
In a 24-7 social media environment you can’t help but compare your life to people you are following. You might feel that you don’t measure up. It may be that you are unhappy with your looks – you think you aren’t attractive enough. Perhaps it’s the lifestyle that you crave and you wish that you could travel, have the nice car or house like the person you are following on social media. You may feel that you’re not where you thought you would or should be at this particular point in your life. These kinds of thoughts lead to feelings of disappointment, stress and depression.
If you want to positively influence your mood and how your life unfolds, cultivate gratitude. New York Times best selling author Janice Kaplan spent a year living gratefully. She documented how it changed her life and relationships for the better in her book, “The Gratitude Diaries”. There are simple ways to cultivate gratitude in your life.
Try this exercise. Each morning identify at least one thing that you’re grateful for. It need not be complicated, maybe you’re grateful for being able to get up, or maybe you are grateful for your job, even if it’s not the perfect job. Perhaps you are grateful for your family.
Identify the focus of your gratitude and write it down on a Gratitude List. You may prefer to keep a Gratitude Journal or you may want to make a note in the Memo section of your phone. Keep your list where you can review it periodically. When you do, you’ll re-experience the positive feeling that comes when you focus on the things you appreciate.
Cultivate Gratitude and Benefit Your Love Relationship
Experiencing and expressing gratitude also benefits your relationship. It’s important to express your gratitude to your partner. If you are like most people, you tend to focus on the things your partner says or does that annoy or upset you. You may find yourself focusing more on how your partner has failed to live up to your expectations, while you downplay the “little things” your partner does that you do appreciate.
Perhaps you rationalize that those “little things” are basic expectations in your relationship and you shouldn’t have to acknowledge them. However if your partner stopped doing the “little things” that you have come to expect and that you take for granted, you would definitely miss them. Instead make an effort to genuinely express your gratitude to your partner for some of the simple things that he or she does that make your life better. These include preparing a meal, doing laundry, grocery shopping, taking care of the bills, accompanying you to a family event, sharing in childcare responsibilities. You can express appreciation for the time and effort taken to do these things.
Experiencing and expressing gratitude benefits your relationship in two ways. Firstly, when you take time to look for and express appreciation for the things your partner does, it helps to create a positive shift in how you look at your partner and how you feel towards your partner. Secondly when you express gratitude to your partner, it changes how your mate responds to you. Your partner will feel emotionally closer to you. Your loved one will also be more inclined to continue making an effort to impress and please you.
Here is an experiment that will benefit your love relationship. It’s a gratitude letter that you will write secretly over the course of a week and give to your partner at the end of the week.
- Each day for one week, tell your partner one thing that you genuinely appreciate.
- Privately write down your expressed words in a letter, sharing details about why you appreciate that item.
- At the end of the week give the letter to your partner. Watch and see what happens, see how you feel and how it impacts your relationship.
It would be great to hear your story, feel free to come back and share in the comments below.