Dealing with COVID-19 and the ensuing lock downs is definitely putting a strain on our partnerships. Improving your relationship during the coronavirus crisis is going to be a challenge. You'll need to work at it if it’s to be successful.
We are, usually, separated at least eight hours a day by work or other activities. Now, we are together day in and day out 24/7. In a lot of ways, this is a good dry run for retirement.
Some couples will grow stronger through this experience. Some will be pushed to their limits. How you survive this once in a hundred-year pandemic is totally up to you.
No partnership is perfect. However, each one is special and you can strengthen it by continually enhancing it. Put more quality into it and show that it’s worth fighting for by doing the following things:
Open and Honest Communication
I know, we’ve heard it a hundred times! Communication is the key to an awesome partnership. But what does that mean? It's a pretty broad term. If you're trying to figure it out alone, it can be a little daunting.
Support Each Other
The main thing is to be supportive and encouraging of each other. This creates an atmosphere of sharing. Neither person feels afraid to express their true, candid thoughts and feelings.
It's important to be vulnerable and not hide anything. Eventually, secrets will come out that could be very damaging further down the line.
Openness and honesty are key. This gives you the freedom to talk about anything – nothing is off limits. Shannon and I talk about everything and I do mean everything! For example, my toxic work environment and the ultimate decision to resign.
I was terrified! If it weren’t for Shannon, I’m sure I’d still be there or on extended medical leave. My boss was that bad! Let me say, those conversations weren’t easy. I feel blessed to have such an understanding and supportive husband.
Everybody is going to have an argument, that’s inevitable. Healthy conflict is good.
However, when it happens fight fair. Don’t take any cheap shots or low blows. Trying to manipulate or shame the other person into thinking they’re being unfair will not end well. It’ll lead to unnecessary drama and strain.
Take ownership for how you behave. If you’re wrong, admit it and apologize. And if someone is apologizing for being wrong, then, forgive them.
Also, don’t have the same fight over and over. Bringing past issues into a current situation will only aggravate the situation. You have already dealt with it so let it go and move on. Don’t keep a score card.
Every couple will experience negotiation and compromise. However, you have to be on the same page for the big things. Do you have shared hopes and dreams for the future? Where will you be in five years?
For example, concerning COVID-19 do you both agree on what protocols to follow? Some people don’t see it as much of an issue. Others are paranoid to the nth degree. Maybe you’re somewhere in the middle. Negotiating a strategy to deal with it keeps any animosity to a minimum.
The key is to listen and understand each person’s point of view. When you truly listen, you get a real sense of what the person is trying to say or feels. Empathy comes from this level of awareness. With all this knowledge, you’ll be able to respond in a positive and constructive manner.
Respect and Appreciation
This is an area that is sadly lacking in most partnerships. It sounds simple enough – respect and appreciate each other. Not so much. We get comfortable with our significant other and fall into a routine. The little things you did when dating just seem to fall by the wayside as the years pass.
This is a biggie! Each of us has differing opinions. It’s important to value and look forward to hearing what each of us has to offer. You don’t have to agree on everything.
Discuss differing opinions openly and hear them out with an open mind. This shows you love them as well as accept and value them for the person they are.
We are all creatures of habit and have different styles. Shannon will go out to the shop to think about things. He says he comes up with his best ideas there. Whereas, I’ll listen to music and think about things. Everyone’s different and you need to embrace these differences.
Don’t try to change each other. Having healthy boundaries is essential They’re essential in any partnership. For example, when they’re upset, do they want to talk about it or be left alone? Sounds easy enough to answer however most people don’t know, for sure, each other’s limits.
Respecting them also involves discussing any issues or concerns with each other not another outside party. This could be a co-worker, friend or family member. If you don’t talk to the person you need resolution from, you can’t solve the problem.
It’s all about communicating. You don’t want to do or say things that could hurt one another.
You’d be amazed how much mileage you can get out of saying “please” and “thank you” for the things they do for you.
They don’t have to make a favorite meal or buy that ice cream you like so much. They do it because they love you and think it’ll make you happy.
Acknowledging this special effort ensures the behavior continues. Also, it reminds you to do something special for them. So, they can feel as special and loved as you do.
Ultimately, treat each other with compassion, care, consideration, empathy and appreciation.
Trust and Honesty
Trust doesn’t happen overnight. It builds up over time and through experiences. Be consistent with every word and action. Keep promises and have their back, always.
Always be each other’s biggest supporter. The greatest responsibility while improving your relationship during the coronavirus crisis is being there for each other. Make sure you both are safe, secure and happy.
One of the biggest killers of trust is the lack of it. When you have to question motivations or keep tabs on a person, it strains the levels of happiness, love and enjoyment.
The fastest way to lose trust is by dishonesty. No matter how long you have taken to build trust, it can be shattered to a million pieces with lies.
When you are 100% honest, it gives that security and confidence you are there for them alone even when you go out of town. Honesty and trust keeps you standing strong and united.
Commitment and Loyalty
This means that you’ll always be there for each other. Through thick and thin, you know they'll always be there for you.
Each of you puts in equal amounts of effort to keep the partnership going and flourish. Being sincere gives a safe haven for them to run to no matter what.
Also, being best friends ups the ante on commitment and loyalty. If you’re friends as well as a couple, you’re supportive in every way. Each one of us is going to grow old one day. By having a solid friendship, you’ll weather any storm that comes along.
Fidelity is not only staying faithful by not cheating. It’s not sharing an emotional bond with another person, either. You remain devoted in body and spirit.
Freedom and Individuality
It’s important to have time apart. Everyone needs alone time or personal space. It’s okay to enjoy doing things together, however, have outside interests and hobbies you can pursue.
Spend time with friends. Be supportive of each other’s hobbies and outside connections (friends, co-workers, etc.). This only adds, not detracts, to the partnership.
Identity is something you should never let slip for anyone. Everyone needs a sense of independence. It’s important to make sure you are working on you. To fully love someone else, first you have to love you.
If that “little voice” is telling you’re not worthy, you'll have a hard time believing any expression of love from anyone. When you have self-love, you have so much more love to share.
Finding Joy and Laughing Together
Life is hard enough already. When life throws a curve ball at you, it’s good to have someone to share it with. Having a sense of humor can help you get through the toughest of times.
Find things you like to do together that make you happy. Shannon and I love making dinner together. We try new dishes and experiment with different spices. It’s not only fun, we learn a whole new recipe to boot!
Watching something funny that makes you laugh is just good for the soul. Seeing a comedian or a hilarious movie and laughing out loud eases the trials and tribulations of the moment.
Every once in a while, good natured poking fun at each other is a good way to build a closer bond. It’s never mean, spiteful or taken too far. It’s just gentle teasing that might be a little bit of an inside joke between the two of you.
There should always be more positivity than negativity in life. Continually improving your relationship during the coronavirus crisis will make sure the good times outweigh the bad!
Love and Affection
And now the one that is the fun part! Seriously, it’s not all about sex. Emotional intimacy is just as, if not more, important than physical intimacy.
Love and affection are what keep you together through the good times and the bad. With them, you don’t get tired of going through the challenges that life can throw at you. Together, you shall be victorious.
Talk and be aware of each other’s needs and wants. Know what makes them feel loved, happy and adored - not uncomfortable. This doesn’t only include in the bedroom.
Some people like public displays of affections. Others, not so much. This applies to complements as well. They (or you) could feel really embarrassed. It doesn’t mean to stop – just realize they have to get used to them.
Learn what makes each of you happy. You could do a random act of kindness for a stranger. So, why not do the same thing for a spouse? Sometimes, Shannon will buy me flowers just because – it's such a nice surprise and makes me feel special and loved.
Of course, you need that connection in bed, too. After all, sex is the spark of life! However, that raw urgent love you felt when you’re first dating fades. What you want to do is fan the embers into a slow burning flame that will last a lifetime. Love passionately and deeply. Strengthen that bond.
Create a Fair and Equal Partnership
Don’t let one person’s choices and opinions dominate. Hear each other out. A compromise may be in order when you don’t agree. Each of our needs, preferences and interests are just as important as the other.
At times, you might contribute more money or emotional support and vice versa. The end result should always feel equitable and even. No one ever wants to feel taken advantage of. There should always be a balance.
Remember to always appreciate each other. You each have different strengths that you bring into the partnership. They should be celebrated because you are stronger together than apart.
To feel valued, that sense of fairness and equality needs to be tweaked and maintained.
Closing Thoughts on Improving Your Relationship During the Coronavirus Crisis
Sheltering in place, social isolation and work from home practices have changed many people’s partnerships and lives. Some for the better and some for worse.
In a way, we were pushed into trying out retirement. Kind of like a trial by fire . By working from home, you are spending way more time with each other than you normally would. Previously, one or both of you were gone for eight hours a day working or doing some outside activity.
Fights are going to happen. Compromises will need to be made. We are figuring things out on the fly each and every day. No one knows what our “new normal” will look like or even when it will begin.
When we get through this, and we will get through this, you will, either, come out the other side stronger and more connected than ever before or not. It’s all up to you.