One year ago, the Government issued a stay at home’ order to slow the outbreak of . Suddenly, we found ourselves thrown into an alien situation, which for many brought up unexpected relationship challenges. As the novelties of working from home, Zoom quizzes and sofa dates lose their charm, we ask, how has the pandemic and lockdown affected your relationship?
Relationships can be tricky to navigate at the best of times and, as we recover from the second-wave of the virus and a long winter, everything feels even harder than usual.
We are all having to accept massive changes in the way we live our lives. Keeping our relationships safe and healthy has never been more important, or more challenging.
Most relationships aren’t built on the expectation that you will spend all your time together. It is easy to become stifled by each other’s presence when there is little opportunity for some alone time, or time to spend away from home working or just chilling with family and friends.
For the time being though, this continues to be our new normal’ and what is important is to allow for that and to make some adjustments where you can. In this blog we give you six tips to help keep your relationships healthy and happy.
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.
Finding the space to have some you’ time is important, and this may be one of the most challenging aspects of the lockdown. Exercising, and meeting one other person outside, is currently allowed according to the Government guidance, providing social distancing is observed.
Other possibilities include setting clear boundaries for time alone – you could designate an hour a day to soak in the bath or agree to spend time apart in separate rooms. You may find setting aside this time makes couple time more enjoyable when you do reunite.
Having more time together may make it feel like your normal disagreements are maximised. Suddenly, hair in the plughole or leaving lights on can escalate to arguments. Try to evaluate what it is that is upsetting you – is it really the small thing you’d usually let go of, or is it something deeper?
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.
Handling financial insecurity
Unfortunately, the pandemic has had a ripple effect on life as we knew it, with many now facing huge levels of financial insecurity due to losing their jobs or experiencing reduced hours. Financial issues can put a huge strain on relationships, particularly if there is one bread-winner’, or if you have a family to provide for.
If you relate to this, you will not be alone, and there are services available to help you. If you also feel that financial issues will prevent you from accessing relationship support, there are many organisations out there that offer free or donation-only counselling. Apps are also a useful and low-cost way to support your relationship. Conveniently stored on your smartphone, apps such as Toucan Together provide multiple ways to enhance or support your relationship at the click of a button.
Finding the positives
In such unprecedented times, it can be hard to see past the negatives. However, looking for positives, however small, can go a long way in boosting your outlook on life and your relationship. With the work commute now just a few steps from your desk, you may have found that this time has allowed you to spend more quality time with your partner. We have a lot more room and time for each other; and facing this threat on our health, and the loss of external distractions, may have made you revaluate the time you are able to spend with your loved ones.
Gratitude can have a powerful effect — we explore how in our recent blog: Gratitude: the simple way to make your relationship better and happier.
Are You A Swan?
The swan’ analogy relates to the elegant image of a swan gliding across a placid lake. What you don’t see, are the legs propelling them through the water, helping them to stay afloat. With so much time on our hands, and few distractions, it can become more challenging to keep our heads above water. Similarly, it’s possible that relationship issues that have been previously overlooked in the past, may now come to the surface. If you feel this may be happening in your relationship, try talking to your partner about it — what is happening for you both beneath the surface?
This is also important to remember when you feel tempted to compare yourself or your relationship to others. Often, people may appear to be calm and happy (particularly on social media, which is how many of us are staying connected at the moment) but they may be treading water too or even working hard to stay afloat’.
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. Relationship Counselling, and relationship support apps, can help with this. There’s more in our blog: couple relationship counselling — how does it work, and does it help? Having the support of a non-judgemental mediator may be the life-raft you need.
Written by Rachael O’Brien, National Support Team Administrator for Counselling.
This blog was originally published on Toucan Together.