Relationships are hard to do at the best of times, but right now, as the Coronavirus is ripping through our communities, affecting the very fabric of our lives as we know them, it is even harder. We are all having to accept massive changes in the way we live day to day and keeping our relationships safe and healthy has never been more important, or more challenging.
Families are finding themselves in lockdown. Social distancing means many are unable to go out to work or meet with friends and family; even our ability to join with others in worship has been removed. Weddings have been placed on hold and funerals can be attended only by a chosen few, who are then required to remain two-metres distance from each other, denying them the opportunity of receiving or giving any physical comfort which can be so important.
There is no doubt that the ripples from this time will be felt, possibly for many years to come. We are in a moment of history that in the future will be studied and wondered about by many, but for those of us caught in it right now, simply getting from one day to the next, keeping safe, well, and connected with loved ones has become the over-riding priority.
It is good to remember that relationships aren’t built on the expectation that you will spend all your time together. For the time being though, this is our new ‘normal’ and what is important is to allow for that and to make some adjustments where you can. So, what can you do to help keep your relationships healthy through this time?
Keeping In Touch
Keeping in touch with your family and friends has never been more important. Take time to call them or use one of the many webcam platforms that are becoming popular. Being able to see your loved ones, even if you can’t physically be with them can really help. Without the definition of a normal day that is naturally punctuated by going to work, school or simply going out and about, many are finding they are losing track of time. If this is happening to you set an alarm to make sure you don’t miss that all-important catch up with your family, friends or work colleagues.
Organising Time Online
Many groups of families and friends are organising online events to help not just with boredom but also the loss of community. Quizzes are proving popular and can be great fun for all the family. Book clubs, study groups, and other interest groups can be formed, or you can just meet virtually to have a coffee or glass of wine together. If you’re not sharing the same house as your partner you can arrange ‘date nights’ where via webcam you both have a meal together and chat about your plans for when the lockdown is over.
As much as we love our families, finding the time and space to have some time alone is important and this may be one of the most challenging aspects of the lockdown. Exercising outside is still allowed providing Government guidance and social distancing is observed and this may provide a vital opportunity to be alone. Other possibilities include agreeing to have some time in a separate room or in your garden. If this isn’t possible try putting headphones on for a while and listen to something you enjoy.
Everyone is likely to be more stressed and anxious as a result of the current situation. Try to remember when talking with your partner and family that they will have their own way of dealing with this which may be different to your own. Big and difficult decisions may be best put on hold for the moment and if you’ve been arguing with someone over a specific issue, it is a good idea to call a truce, at least for the time being.
Everyone will be experiencing this time differently. Some will seem to cope, at least on the outside; others will struggle. Some may find it so overwhelming that their mental health may become affected or deteriorate. We know that couples who were experiencing relationship problems may find they now come to the surface. That’s why it is so important to look after yourself and those around you. Make allowances, reach out to each other, and ask for help if you need it.
You may want to consider relationship counselling, or contacting one of the many charities out there who are still working hard to support those in need, many of whom have rapidly moved over to webcam in order to still be there in this time of need.
Written by Jenny Porter
Director of Relationship Support, Marriage Care