Maintaining relationships during Covid-19
As a blog on marriage advice says, "not having a fever during the COVID lockdown doesn't necessarily mean your relationship is healthy."
For some of my couples the COVID quarantine has been a real gift while for others, it has been devastating.
What has made some couples thrive during this period while others, as the blog says, have been on the verge of losing it?
Maintaining good relationships during COVID-19
We all know that healthy relationships are linked to better physical health.
There's a lot of evidence to suggest healthy love relationships support both physical and mental health, it behooves couples to make the most of this time to enhance their relationships. According Smart Brief:
"Most important at this present time is the finding that social connection appears to improve performance of the cardiovascular, endocrine and immune systems, all of which could help people reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 and, if they contract it, provide physical and emotional resources to fight the virus." https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8668748
Given that we have this special time for couples to spend in close quarters, how do the successful couples do it well while the other unsuccessful fail?
Life and Love During COVID-19
My couples that are doing well are spending time together in ways that they never had before. It used to be that business travel would cause a lot of stress on their relationships and the distance and harried lifestyle was draining for them.
Even though there is new financial uncertainty, these couples are talking more and working together to solve their problems.
Did you know, according to usage reports by the dating apps that the relationships and dating games have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic?
A recent press release stated that daily Tinder conversations have risen globally by 20% and have a 25% increase in length, while Bumble reported a 21% increase in messages sent since March 12, according to Mother Jones.
Many of my single clients have started new relationships during the pandemic.
Maintain self-care and a routine
The couples that are doing well have a nice self care routine that involves each other. They go for walks together, they work out together, and they are sleeping more.
Work together to keep kids occupied
One of the biggest stressors right now is working while having the kids distance learning. Managing work and the kids is one of the biggest sources of mental health anxiety for couples.
Couples that maintain a routine as much as possible do well.
Plan something fun
The relationships that are doing the best have planned fun activities, such as game nights or cooking together. They have taken the time at home as an opportunity to connect more.
Some couples are using the time to redecorate.
Use the time to make things better
I have had some couples reach out and start couple therapy as a way to deal with this time of crisis. Given that they are home now, they decided it was time to heal some old wounds.
What do Studies Show?
A recent study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being observed ways in which couples can not only regain, but also maintain closeness during COVID-19. This study noted that:
Couples can regain and maintain closeness during COVID-19, which may help combat stress during this time. https://www.verywellmind.com/building-partner-intimacy-during-covid-19-5087068
Researchers gathered 31 couples for an online group session to test their theory, and the study showed that participants who were involved in the closeness intervention, called Awareness, Courage, and Love (ACL) Intervention, had higher rates of closeness that were maintained after the session was over.
Make a plan for relationships in crisis
Above all this pandemic has upended our lives. Couples and families have lost so much.
According to the University of Nevada, this has caused some families and people, that means less sleep, and others it might mean have been engaging in avoidance behaviors like drinking and watching too much television, difficulty concentrating, or depression. This can lead to relationship conflict.
It has also caused confusion in partners roles. For example, one parent may be more involved in distance learning now or another might be the sole breadwinner.
These changes can cause conflict when couples don't have a foundation of good communication.
And, of course, a couple's sex life is another area that is impacted. Given that kids are always around it can put pressure on finding time which is stressful.
It is well known that stress inhibits romantic relationships.
Even though these are not ideal times, make the most of it and talk through the tough stuff with your partner.
Going through crisis is hard enough, going through it together makes all of the difference.