Healthy Relationships

Nothing’s the Same Right Now—Not Even Your Most Important Relationship

January 26, 2021

Being stuck somewhere with other humans is the start of as many romances as horror stories. Isolation and familiarity apparently are as likely to spark flames of love as they are to burn everyone alive.

Feeling singed after months of lockdown? China saw an increase in divorce after its coronavirus lockdown, but here in the United States, early results aren’t as daunting. Twice as many couples said they’re arguing less than couples who reported arguing more.

How? Maybe by following some of these relationship truths that have emerged as we’ve adjusted to life during COVID.

Novelty matters.

Even though you’re eating breakfast for dinner for the thousandth time this year and looking at the same four walls, you can introduce something new, and doing so is worth the effort. New stuff means dopamine, which means YAY—individually and as a couple. Spice up your takeout routine, sure, but look also for new activities that you can do together.

Listen more than you talk.

Being together more doesn’t mean you magically understand each other better, and a general rule of successful couples is that each partner listens to the other. It takes practice but does a ton to help understanding and empathy—superb qualities in a partner. Anyway, who else are you going to listen to these days?

Give each other some grace.

When was the last time you dealt with a global pandemic? Exactly. Even the luckiest among us is facing unprecedented stress. And stress tends to mean a lot of unpleasant relationship repercussions, like a shorter fuse and irritability. Try to watch your tone, and keep in mind that your partner’s tone probably has little to do with you and everything to do with the weight of the world. You might be able to mirror the softer tone that leads to a productive conversation.

Lean on your support network.

One person can’t be everything to you, even if you’re looking at just one face all day, every day. You may not be able to throw your arms around your friends, but making sure you connect with them can relieve pressure in your relationship.

Focus on the positive.

You’re feeling surly, trapped, and worried. Your partner is blasting that one Fiona Apple song for the hundred billionth time, wearing the same sweater they’ve had on for a week. It might be a good time for meditation, or for thinking through the many things you love about this person. Too tough to ponder at this exact moment? Table it and find some of the positives in your life outside of this relationship. Sometimes you have to start elsewhere. That’s okay. Once you build up that positivity muscle, you can get back to focusing on what you love about the person who shares your life.