Let’s face it: No matter how much you love your partner, being stuck at home together 24/7 isn’t easy. Relationship coach Karin Katz shares simple, effective tips on how to maintain a healthy relationship during quarantine
By Karin Katz
We are living in exceptional times, scary and terrifying and incredibly anxiety-provoking. Virtually the entire world is in quarantine. That means all day, every day together. And, we really don’t know when it will end.
So how does that affect relationships? I can tell you one thing: One wife I know has gone from begging to have a meal with her busy husband to scolding him on how loudly he chews.
In typical circumstances, normal “togetherness” is a goal of healthy couples in a typically hectic world. Now we’re trying to figure out how to work, parent, and simply get along as we move through the same rooms all day long — day after day after day. This ain’t a vacation in the Caribbean, folks.
Many couples who used to pass each other like two ships in the night now find themselves moored together nonstop. Add the huge amount of stress that’s flooding in, and you may feel like you’re sinking. Here are a few tips for keeping your relationship afloat in these choppy waters.
Give each other space
Whether you live in a mansion or a tiny apartment, carve out a small space for yourself. I heard of one mother who took over her daughter’s fort for two hours a day just for some alone time. When her 4-year-old explained that the fort was only for aliens, this smart mom responded, “Good morning, earthling.”
Be creative. One dad in my neighborhood set up his desk on the front lawn while wearing three coats to keep warm. Did I mention he has a 3- and 5-year-old in the house?
Whether it’s for 10 minutes or several hours, take the time to care for yourself. Find a place within your four walls where you can carve a few minutes of “me” without the “we.”
It’s very easy to feel down and start to henpeck your partner. Watching the news and keeping up with social media can make even Mary Poppins feel like Eeyore. All of a sudden, every nuance that used to be perfectly bearable is now nails on a chalkboard.
Did he always shuffle about like that? Did she always turn the pages so noisily? Why, for the love of god, does he keep peering into the refrigerator as if the food fairy had made a delivery?
The key to staying solid is to not let negativity be the daily mantra. Keeping it positive and respectful will go much farther and keep the relationship on solid ground. Deep breaths, everyone.
Validate each other’s feelings
This is a crazy time with a lot of fear involved. Lives are at stake, jobs are lost and people are really, really sick. Emotionally, it’s the Wild West. When one of you starts feeling anxious or upset, just listen and validate.
When you see your partner going head-first down the spiral stairway, calm them down and be patient. After all, tomorrow may be your day to unravel.
Share in the work
Suddenly, our home has 24/7 tenants and feels more like Hotel California (you can never leave) than our beloved abode. Kids who are used to having meals and chores done for them in the busy days of school and sports are now expecting one or both parents to take over. As you have undoubtedly noticed, that lifestyle has a short shelf life.
In order to not be resentful of your partner, share in the housework and stay unified on delegating chores to the kids. Trust me, their future spouses will thank you for it.
Find time for intimacy
I know, I know, with the world in crisis and your home filled with inhabitants, how on earth can you be intimate? My advice: Find a place and time. Be crafty even If you have to lock the bathroom door and pretend to be in the shower. Where there’s a will there’s a way, and since sex releases endorphins and endorphins ease stress, quarantined showering may just have to increase to multiple times a day.
Put “hot topics” on hold
Anyone in a relationship knows that every couple has at least one hot topic. You know what I mean: It’s an issue that issue may be swept tidily under the rug but never really goes away. Trust me, this is not the time to tackle those subjects. The goal is to create a calm and tranquil environment for both you and your kids.
Try new things
Take some walks, cook some meals, watch some new shows. Find things to do together that you’ve never done before. This is a tough time and you may as well explore new ideas and hobbies. Two weeks ago, I watched my fiancé haul in a 250-pound treadmill and assemble it himself. I can honestly say, handyman chic is the new sexy.
Like the famous line goes, if you’re laughing, you are not crying. Find the funny, look for the silver linings and keep things light whenever possible.
Of course, that is much, much easier said than done. We are all walking around ungroomed in sweatpants, carrying many burdens on our shoulders. Endlessly managing multiple personalities under one roof lends itself to impatience and petty annoyances.
On the bright side, research shows that when couples overcome hardships and obstacles together, it can bring them even closer together.
Although any closer may be a violation of social distancing.
Born and raised in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Karin has a BA in sociology, with a minor in psychology earning honors at Michigan State University. Along with certification in relationship coaching, Karin is an international blogger, columnist and relationship coach who accepts new clients daily. For more information visit, asampleoflove.com.