More then six weeks after the lockdown was imposed around the world, couples might find themselves in severe states, and some might not even exist anymore. Although we need stability, routine, and a certain fraction of predictability in our lives, in the wrong dosage, all these can psychologically hurt us.
The COVID-19 lockdown and relationships
We need variety, novelty, and a small fraction of uncertainty to stay healthy. And not the uncertainty that comes from our common enemy, the COVID-19 virus. The uncertainty that keeps us interested in our partner. How was your day like? That is a question that creates intimacy in a couple. That brings them close. But to get close, you need first to get some distance.
When the distance is no longer an option, you end up creating it. Partners start hiding inside themselves to achieve that feeling of distance. But since this doesn’t make the partner be at a distance, and you already know what his/her day was like, you’ve listened to his phone conversations, and you know what he ate, that there is no point asking him/her anything. You already know.
We get tired of the sound of their voice, of seeing him/her all the time. We miss missing our partner. And let’s not forget the nuclear turmoil that feeds this alienating feeling: anxiety. Currently, we are all experiencing anxiety. We are all afraid of what is happening, and of what could happen, and of what will happen. It is a combo of both rational and irrational fear. Some of us experience it as it is: fear.
But there are some of us that experience anxiety inverted into anger that becomes aggressivity. Those of us that don’t panic in front of the pandemic, we still let it get the best of us: our gentleness. How can we be gentle when there is a killer outside our door that could silently turn us into one?
So, try now and make your relationship work. It sounds impossible. And it might be so, but we owe t to ourselves to try it. Here is a five-step plan that might help alleviate the pressure.
Make your relationship better during the coronavirus outbreak
Define your goals, roles, and rules
Don’t’ live it to chance and whim. Discuss what each of you needs and can do, and negotiate. Who cooks, who cleans, who does the homework with the children, who play with them. And when one of you fails, make it a rule not to get angry about it but to try and renegotiate the terms.
No matter where you spend your isolation, whether it is a mansion or a single room apartment, make room. Isolate yourselves at times, and respect the other one’s need for separation from you. We can’t live under constant surveillance. We need freedom.
Go for a walk
You can either go and run, or just go to the groceries, or a walk around the block. You need air. Your relationship needs air. Let it breathe!
Spend time laughing together
Plan a dinner, or a bottle of wine on the balcony, or watching a movie, or having a bath together, and make it a rule to laugh together. Go over your shared memories, take a ride into your photo albums. Define your intimacy.
Remember to be grateful
This is something that can easily be forgotten. Make it a daily habit to list the reasons you should be grateful for or to concentrate on just one of them. Don’t let a day pass without reminding this to you. Gratefulness is the only antidote against anxiety in a couple.