How to Keep Your Relationship Strong During Times of Stress
Life is tough right now, and your relationship may struggle. For people who live together and face quarantine, shutdowns, and low or no employment, the stress can be unbearable. You love your partner, but even good relationships can crack under this level of stress and strain.
We talked to a few experts to find out what you can do to keep your relationship strong, in the current situation and beyond.
Take Some Time for Yourself
“Be sure to build in self-care and time alone, as possible,” advises Emy Tafelski, marriage counselor and sex therapist. “We are many of us, isolated in our homes with our partners, and sometimes our children, and our work lives. As the only other person there it makes sense that the stress of all that is happening can eventually leak onto your partner. When we practice good self-care and nurture ourselves we have more capacity to stay grounded and non-reactive toward our partner.”
Lower Your Expectations Around Your Home
If you have kids, the house will probably not be as clean as you’d like. If you have household projects you were hoping would get done, they may be put on hold,” states couples counselor Raffi Bilek of Baltimore Family Center. “Try to be okay with things not meeting your normal expectations. These aren’t normal times, and your relationship will benefit more from the calm than from a mopped floor.”
Let Yourself Plan for the Future
Dating coach Lee Wilson advises keeping your eyes on the future, not just the stress of today. “It’s also important to plan for things you want to do once we are back to a normal way of life. You could keep a journal of planned dates, vacations, and activities you would like to do together once this has been lifted. It’s important to do that so that you have something to look forward to together and individually. It will be helpful when you feel down about being in your home day after day.”
Get on the Same Page About Your Fears
“Be honest about your fears,” states life coach Claire Pearson. “Financial worry is a big stressor right now. Use this as an opportunity to revisit your budget. Evaluate your finances together and make some decisions about how you might want to shift your spending for the next few months. Feeling like you are on the same page and knowing the status of your financial health will give you a sense of control and help minimize stress.”
Really Listen to Each Other
“Many people think listening is a passive activity, but active listening is crucial for relationships to feel safe enough for partners to share their true thoughts and feelings without judgment,” states licensed counselor Natalie Mica. “Active listening occurs when individuals are willing to put their own beliefs, feelings, and thoughts to the side while they fully engage in what their partner is saying. It includes non-judgment, an agreement to not interrupt, a willingness to focus on the partner’s words without even internal rebuttals or excuses, and asking open-ended questions rather than giving advice. This helps partners freely and openly express themselves to one another.”
Show Gratitude to Each Other
Family therapist Allison Zamani reminds us to say thank you. “Being around our partners so much can lead to us taking them for granted. Add to that the enormous stress that we are carrying right now, and we can easily blow up at one another. Try to combat that with intentionally being grateful for your partner. Make a plan that, every day for the next five days, you are going to show your partner in at least three intentional ways that you love them. This could be making them a cup of tea, giving a massage, or a spontaneous gift. Whatever your partner would appreciate.”
Reconnect with Each Other
“After being together for some time, it’s hard to see your partner as you did when you first met,” says psychotherapist Jill Sammak. “Try to reconnect to those feelings. You can review old journal entries from that time, talk together about the first time you met one another’s parents, or eat ramen noodles on the floor as you did in your dorm room freshman year. Then fill in the blanks. It may feel like you know everything there is to know about your partner but do you? Out of necessity, the content of your conversations has probably shifted from exploration in the early days to the pragmatic as you juggle careers and kids.” This is a great time to ask questions, talk about old and new interests, and learn more about each other.
We wouldn’t be us if we didn’t add a reminder about exploring your mutual sexual pleasure. Keeping your relationship going is definitely possible, but it’s more fun when you add a sex toy or a role-play fantasy, too. When you’re ready to do some online shopping and bring the heat back to your relationship, Jack and Jill Adult is here to help.