Being on lockdown during COVID-19 with your nearest and dearest was always going to be tricky. We all know that these are unprecedented times and having to spend 24/7 with your partner is either going to make you stronger or break you apart, especially if you were already having difficulties.
This will not help if you have children at home and elderly relatives to look after and worry about. These sorts of problems would test the strongest of couples. If your relationship was on rocky ground to begin with, this could make you wonder whether to stay and make your relationship work or start over.
A minor disagreement about who takes out the bin or cooks the tea can turn into grounds for divorce and If we are going to follow in China’s footsteps, we will see a surge in Divorce petitions over the next few months.
So, what can you do to survive the next few weeks and months with your partner or spouse?
Here are my top tips….
Give each other time to adjust
You may be both working from home (and home-schooling the children), you may be dealing with one or both of you being furloughed or laid off, one of you may be working extremely long hours as part of the Key Worker Strategy. You may be struggling with having your children and partner under your feet. Whatever your situation, you need time to settle into a new routine and way of living.
This is so important. It seems such a simple thing to do, but many couples do not know how to communicate properly. They disregard what their partner is saying or don’t really listen, they interrupt as they think that what they have to say is more important. Which results in arguments and feelings of resentment.
My advice is, have a set time each day or couple of days to talk to each other about how you are feeling, what you’re struggling with and what help and support you need.
Give each other time to talk, don’t interrupt and show your partner that you are taking on board what they are saying by truly listening. If your struggling with this, use a timer or hold something that means it is your time to talk and the other persons time to listen (yes, it is a little like circle time at primary school but it seems to work). When you have both had time to air your grievances and talk about how you feel, come up with a plan where you will show that you have listened, whether that be giving more cuddles or helping out more around the house.
If you are having frequent arguments over little things, take yourself out of the situation, give yourself 10 minutes and ask yourself “Is this worth getting annoyed over?” The answer will probably be no.
Work as a Team
Working as a team and supporting your partner is fundamental to a good relationship. During Lockdown you will have 101 things to do. whether you’re a Key worker or at home home-schooling the kids.
If one of you is on furlough or been laid off and the other is working, its not ok for the working person to come home and find nothing has been done, even if its just sorting out the washing or getting tea started it’s better than nothing. If you work as a team, things will get done quicker and more efficiently.
If your children are at home and you are home-schooling, play to your strengths and what you are good at. One of you may be better at maths and another more outdoorsy (great for the PE). Decide between you who is going to teach what and try and stick to it.
Don’t get caught up over the small stuff and argue over a job that one of you hasn’t done. (it could be a 5 min task, but you may spend an hour arguing about it) how does this help??
The recipe for all good relationships is being your own person and having time apart. When your cooped up with your beloved and children this seems insurmountable to achieve. But it can be done. Take your daily walk by yourself. Walking is great for your wellbeing and gives you timeout to think and just be.
If your lucky enough to have your own office, excellent, this is great for having a few minutes of alone time to read, meditate or just chill (as one person told me, they escape to theirs to play on their Xbox!!) if not, you have to be a little creative!
Retreat to your bedroom to have some alone time to read, watch tv or just have 10 minutes. Have a long and relaxing soak in the bath. Sit in your garden on a sunny day. Take over the kitchen (no one else allowed, to bake your favourite cake) do your exercise (yoga or workout video) before your partner gets up.
I know of one couple who sleep in separate bedrooms one night a week just to break the monotony (I think its to get way from their partners snoring …)
I’m not saying have a date night (great if you can) but have time that you can just be a couple (whether that is at the weekend or when the children are in bed). Cook together, watch movies or tidy up the garden, have a picnic in the said garden or indoors. Make a ‘couples’ jar and put things in it that you would like to do together, take turns picking one out. There are so many things you can do!
Show your partner that you appreciate and love them. Again, so simple but not many people do this. A small token of love and appreciation will go a very long way in helping your connection grow stronger.
Little things like leaving lovely words of encouragement on post it notes where your partner will find them, making them breakfast in bed and cooking their favourite meal will give you major brownie points and make your better half feel valued.
Having more physical contact is another way of connecting on a deeper level. Give your partner an unexpected kiss or cuddle or a shoulder massage when they are working at their desk, give their hand a squeeze when you are watching tv. You never know where things will lead….
Divorce Coach @ Feel Positive Coaching