Relationships can be a significant source of support while we continue to endure severe anxiety as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19, on the other hand, has strained relationships and thrown this support system into jeopardy. It’s critical to understand how the current health crisis affects relationships and what we can do to mitigate the negative consequences.
According to research, intimate, supportive relationships are valuable resources for health and well-being. During COVID-19, research investigating the relationship between mental health and relationship quality showed that the quality of someone’s relationship with their partner (rather than merely being in a relationship) is strongly related to their mental health.
Discover ways to support each other.
Support entails being aware of each other’s emotions, thoughts, and feelings, as well as noticing and understanding how the pandemic’s persistent stress affects words and behaviors. Instead of taking your partner’s words and actions personally and responding to anything with anger or criticism, pause and take a long breath to reset so you can approach them with understanding, flexibility, and empathy.
Researchers discovered a crucial factor to good relationships when surveying approximately 3,600 participants between March 27 and April 24, 2020, as part of their ongoing Love in the Time of COVID study: Perceived Partner Responsiveness.
The extent to which people believe their intimate relationship is caring and empathetic, validating their feelings rather than ignoring or ridiculing them, is referred to as perceived partner responsiveness. It’s a protective component that acts as a buffer between stress and COVID-19’s extreme stressors. It is easier to handle simultaneous stress in a positive, healthy manner when both spouses regard each other as responsive and empathetic.
You may utilize some ACL tactics used in the study to build responsiveness and deeper connection in your relationship with your partner by following the principles of acceptance, courage, and love:
- Improve your eye contact: Looking at each other and maintaining eye contact while conversing is more receptive than looking elsewhere (particularly at a phone or other device).
- Discuss your relationship’s greatest moments, reflect on good memories, and discuss plans for goals you want to accomplish together now and after the epidemic.
- Maintain regular check-ins and discussions in which both of you may express your worries. Listen and ask how you can help. You don’t have to attempt to solve problems right away.
- Accept one another: Recognize that stress and anxiety are at an all-time high right now, and approach each other with compassion. Avoid taking reactions personally, and let go of expectations for your partner to behave specifically. Compassion should replace criticism.
Being supportive and responsive necessitates effective communication. It is critical to listen carefully. This is being conscious, being present when talking to one other, or spending deliberate time together rather than being distracted or attempting to multitask. Call a time-out if your partner is emotional or if the situation is heated. If possible, go to different areas. Even if you can’t physically separate, take a moment to halt and take a few deep breaths to reset.
Develop a Routine Together
The pandemic and its accompanying restrictions have thrown everyone off balance. Routines that were once familiar and comforting have been put on hold. Work with your partner to build structure and routine in your home to minimize stress and restore a feeling of peaceful order. Routines give structure and consistency.
When you build a functional system together, your shared obligations and, if you have children, childcare adventures will become a lot more orderly and less stressful. You can volunteer to switch roles when the other is too busy to do it, such as basic home chores like cooking and cleaning.
Make it a routine to alternate cleaning the house thoroughly due to the pandemic. Sanitize the furniture, shelves, and everything that is made contact with. Sweep the floor thrice a week or use a vacuum from big names like Dyson or Miele. Take it to a technician who handles such brands or a Miele repair shop if there’s too much hair, lint, or dirt that gets sucked in.
One of the most challenging problems of living together—constantly—is the absence of boundaries. Make time and space for each of you to spend alone each day. Limit your workday as well. It’s easy to blur the boundary between work and home while working from home. Make a separate work area if possible.
Set acceptable time limitations for your task as well. Pledge to enforce these limits every day, no matter what your boundaries look like for you and your partner (there isn’t a set formula because everyone’s circumstance is different).
COVID-19 is a stressful and difficult situation. It influences you, your partner, and your relationship in a distinct and personal way. You may be dealing with several of the concerns we’ve discussed, just some of them, or your unique obstacles that aren’t covered here. Whatever troubles and anxieties you are experiencing, realize that you are not alone.