10 Ideas to Help Your Relationship Thrive During The Coronavirus Quarantine
10 Ideas to Help Your Relationship Thrive During Isolation“The quality of your relationships determines the quality of your life” – Esther PerelThis article has been co-written by my wife Laur...
10 Ideas to Help Your Relationship Thrive During Isolation
“The quality of your relationships determines the quality of your life” – Esther Perel
This article has been co-written by my wife Laura and I. We are not writers or bloggers and neither do we claim to be relationship experts. We do however have 16 years’ experience in how to make an intimate relationship thrive under very challenging conditions.
We acknowledged this morning that if this quarantine situation had occurred ten years ago, our marriage might have been in serious trouble. For a little background, we met in our early twenties after extremely traumatic childhoods, fully believing that we would each be ‘saved’ by the other. ‘At last! I’ve found my soulmate!’ we proclaimed as we vowed to spend the rest of our lives entwined together in unending bliss. Predictably, after a short honeymoon period we then proceeded to take all our unresolved issues out on each other, each of us blaming the other for our individual unhappiness. An altogether common story we know.
“That is why, after the initial euphoria has passed, there is so much unhappiness, so much pain in intimate relationships. They do not cause pain and unhappiness. They bring out the pain and unhappiness that is already in you.” – Eckhart Tolle
Then our son entered the world, and everything changed. We made a strong and urgent commitment to each other to do whatever was necessary to create a safe, calm and loving environment for this beautiful new creature. We learned to stop blaming each other for our problems and instead began to take full responsibility for our own emotional states. We read every book we could find on relationships, parenting, childhood trauma, sex, self-development, addiction, emotional wellbeing and physical health.
Although our marriage isn’t perfect it is certainly a place of safety, security, kindness and comfort. We disagree often but we fight well. We feel safe to communicate our needs. No topic is taboo. There is no elephant in the room and no stone goes unturned. We can challenge each other without being afraid. We consciously do our best to add joy to each other’s lives as often as possible.
It is inevitable that as a result of the coronavirus quarantine, our intimate relationships are going to come under pressure. We thought it might be a good time to share with you 10 things we’ve learned over the last 16 years that might help your relationship thrive rather than dive during the coronavirus lockdown.
- Look after yourself first
This might sound a little selfish but it’s actually the kindest thing you can do for the health of your relationship. If you truly want your partnership to thrive during lockdown you are going to need to bring your best self to the table. If you spend the next three months staring at your phone until it’s time to start drinking yourself to sleep, you’re probably not going to be the most capable and supportive of partners.
Here’s a few examples of things you could do to look after you:
- Write a ‘Quarantine Routine’ to ensure there’s some structure to your day. Be sure to include some time to yourself if you possibly can.
- Look after the basics – eat well, sleep well, look after your appearance, exercise and spend time outdoors.
- Maintain friendships by calling on the phone rather than texting.
- Resurrect old hobbies and interests or start new ones
- Limit your time on screens and social media
- Manage any addictive behaviours you may be prone to during stressful times
OK, now that you’re tip top, let’s focus on your relationship.
- Discuss your needs
Now that you’re cooped up with your partner and are unable to socialise elsewhere, you may find that having your emotional needs met at home is more important than before. Ask your partner what they need from you to feel loved and appreciated and let them know what you need yourself.
Depending on your personality type, what you need from a partner may be completely different to what your partner needs. Understanding your differences is crucial if you are to successfully meet each other’s needs.
According to Author Dr. Gary Chapman in his book ‘The 5 Love Languages’ we have just five basic emotional needs that need to be met in order for us to feel loved and appreciated:
- Words of Affirmation
If your partner craves this kind of affection, compliment and encourage them specifically. Tell them exactly what you love and appreciate about them regularly.
- Acts of Service
This language is all about action. Do something for your partner whether it’s helping more in the kitchen or picking up the phone and paying a bill they haven’t had time to pay themselves.
- Receiving Gifts
This love language is not necessarily about the gift itself, but more that you thought about them enough to give them something to make them feel loved.
- Quality Time
This is about pure connection without distraction. Really be with your partner and make them the focus of your attention.
- Physical Touch
If your partners primary love language is physical touch, ask them what kinds of non-sexual touch they enjoy (we’ll discuss sex later). It could be as simple as holding hands, cuddling or running your hands through their hair.
Checking in with your partner and discussing what forms of affection you’re craving at the moment will strengthen your unity and help you whether any storm.
- Foster a culture of mutual generosity
Having now learned a bit more about what your partner needs from you during quarantine it’s time to take action. Practise putting your own needs aside and instead focus on giving your partner what they need. Don’t hold back and don’t wait until your partner does something for you first. It’s not about point scoring or ‘giving to get’, it’s just giving for the sake of giving to the person you love most. If you both consciously practise this philosophy, you’ll find your household will quickly become a far more harmonious and enjoyable place to be.
- Have realistic expectations
OK so it’s easy to talk about what your needs are but let’s face it, your partner just might not have that much headspace to be thinking about you as much as you’d like. If you’re both working from home whilst trying to home school 3 children, keep on top of the laundry and walk the dogs, it’s going to be a challenge for them to remember to tell you how amazing you look in that dress. Try to remember your partner is doing the best they can given the circumstances and try to cut them some slack. Again, just use this as an opportunity to practise giving rather than receiving.
- Express gratitude
- Be present
- Avoid unnecessary drama
- Have sex (if you want to)
- Use your time together wisely
- Make your relationship a priority, even if you have children