Living together for 24 hours each day can be tough, but with a little care and a lot of kindness, relationships can blossom through the crisis.
Few of us expected a few short weeks ago that we were suddenly about to begin a whole new relationship, with our current partners! But for many, that might just be how we are feeling today.
For some couples this could be an unexpected bonus, but no doubt for many others the lockdown will see a whole new experience develop, one marked by irritations, annoying habits and arguments.
Few relationships could encounter such a change without some level of adjustment, so we should be kind on ourselves, and our partners, if we find this new way of living a challenge at times.
Our homes have become our offices, our restaurants, our cinemas and, for those with children, our schools as well. No wonder life is especially difficult. It is even tougher still for those living in small, poor quality housing or for those living in fear of abuse at the hands of their partner.
Many couples are finding the need to develop new routines and new ways of managing their days. There are ways to make things a little better and here are a few tips to help maintain healthy relationships during the lockdown.
· Your routines will have changed so make sure you continue to communicate with your partner and discuss how things are going. Explain how you are feeling, but remember to also listen carefully to your partner to hear how the lockdown is affecting them too.
· Now is perhaps not the best time to try to resolve long-standing resentments, especially if either of you are ill or especially anxious about the current situation. Be kind to yourself and to your partner and don’t expect too much from each other.
· Remember that you are both different people with your own ways of dealing with stress. One person may want to watch the news every minute of the day, and the other would rather not hear about the bad things that are happening. Find your own way of dealing with things and allow your partner to do the same.
· Remember to say thank you when your partner does something nice for you. Small routines, such as making each other teas and coffees, sharing the cooking and the burden of housework can make a huge difference. Let your partner know you appreciate them.
· Use the opportunity to exercise each day to go for walks together and make these as fun as possible. The lockdown may result in many people finding new routines that they love, and spending time together in this way, especially if you aren’t regular walkers, could be a special part of the day.
· The strain of the current health crisis may have taken its toll on your sex life. This is normal during any time of stress and couples should be very understanding of one another if this is the case. Some couples of course may find the extra time together an added bonus….
· If you and your partner don’t live in the same house, keep in touch as best you can by phone, Skype or Zoom. Some people are having online dinners together, using the new technology to continue to feel close when living apart.
· Most couples will bicker from time to time and this is all part of a normal relationship. No person or couple is perfect so don’t catastrophise things if you find yourselves having a bad day together, it will pass.
· If you are having ongoing relationship problems and the lockdown is bringing them more into the open, you may wish to attend counselling. Organisations such as Relationships Scotland are providing online counselling across the country so please get in touch.
· If you feel you are being abused or think that you might be, reach out for support. Scottish Women’s Aid and Abused Men in Scotland are two specialist organisations that will be able to offer you help and advice.
The lockdown will impact different couples in different ways. There is no perfect way to do anything, let alone how to live together in lockdown during a global pandemic! So be kind to yourself, and to each other.
Relationships Scotland provides counselling, mediation and child contact centres across the country. Further details of their work can be found here: www.relationships-scotland.org.uk or call 0345 119 2020
Scottish Women’s Aid Phone: 0131 226 6606
Provides advice, support and safe accommodation for women and their children who have been abused by their partner or ex-partner. They can recommend local groups.
AMIS (Abused Men in Scotland) Phone: 0808 800 0024
Supports men who are experiencing or have experienced domestic abuse.