You’ve longed for more time together…and now you have it. Living together and working from home, kids doing virtual learning isn’t exactly what you had in mind but it has been the situation for lots of couples. And, to be honest, sometimes you find yourself longing for some personal space.
The old saying, “be careful what you ask for” has never been truer than in the last year. The realities of the coronavirus pandemic have thrust couples together in ways they never expected. The idea of spending more time together is sweet and romantic but the reality of 24/7 togetherness, sharing space that is now work and home, is nothing like we envisioned. You love each other but all this togetherness can strain even the strongest relationships and therapists are seeing couples seeking counseling because of all of this.
Even with the restrictions lifting, a lot of people are finding that more working from home, virtual learning and such may be their new normal. What you thought was temporary may be a permanent reality. What now?
The good news is you can survive this and even grow stronger together. The key is to find the balance of mine, yours, and ours. Check out these tips from your Atlanta counselor for making 24/7 togetherness work for you!
It’s OK to Want Some Time Apart
Part of a healthy relationship is having a balance between together time and time for yourself. We need both. When that time gets out of balance, so much closeness can feel overwhelming. Recognize that what you are more likely feeling is the loss of the freedom you had to go out and see friends, go to the gym, or just have some quiet time while your partner was out. Recognize that your partner may be feeling the same way. When you can, make time for yourself and see friends, even if it’s an online chat with a friend or a walk in the park.
Be Kind to Each Other
When people are stressed, miscommunication is a real risk. We sometimes say or do things we might not otherwise say. Off-the-cuff answers can become hot topics real quick. Be mindful about what you’re saying and listen to what your partner is trying to say. Recognize that things may not come out quite the way you want them to. Extending each other some grace can go a long way to avoiding unnecessary conflicts. Instead, listen with an open and compassionate heart. You’re in this together and trying your best.
Make A Plan Together
When you’re all of a sudden thrust into the same space, daily routines take on a whole new meaning. Maybe you used to use the time after your partner left for work to have a quiet cup of tea. Maybe your partner took the kids to school and now they’re home-schooling. Schedules give us a sense of predictability, a purpose and direction. They keep us moving forward. A schedule will also let your partner know what you’re doing so they can plan their time as well. Communication is key.
Make Time for Each Other
Being home together more is not a substitute for dedicated couples time but its often the first thing to fall by the wayside. You need time together too. If getting out and about isn’t possible, look for some fun ways to connect at home. It’s less about what you’re doing and more about doing something enjoyable together. Dress up and show up. Take a walk or have a picnic in the park if it’s safe in your area. Try cooking together or learning to dance. YouTube can be a great resource when you’re stuck at home.
Don’t Forget “Me Time”
With everything going on, taking time for yourself can feel selfish. Taking care of you is an important part of your overall health and well-being. You do a lot for others but you can’t be at your best for them when you’re running on empty. Make time for you. When you’re staying home, finding ways to have some “me time” can be challenging. After all, you’re probably used to going to the gym, having coffee with friends, or engaging in some activity you love. Looks for ways to still do what you enjoy. Try an online exercise class. Have a virtual coffee date with a friend. Don’t forget to encourage your partner to do the same. They need “me time” too and they need to know it’s ok.
Remember that you are in this together and you will get through it. How will your relationship fare? With a little TLC, your relationship can come through trying times stronger than ever.