Couples are entering a new stage in their relationships as they navigate love under lockdown – because spending 24/7 with your partner can be testing at times.
Even s*x and relationship experts say the high levels of stress and anxiety tied to coronavirus is putting a strain on their relationships. Peter Saddington, a counsellor for Relate, didn’t think the situation would impact his relationship with his wife. But it soon took its toll.
“I normally commute to work and have the time to process what’s going on, but I was walking out of one room straight into another and seeing my wife with all of this still whizzing around in my head,” he tells HuffPost UK.
“It was no surprise, really, when we found ourselves having quite heated arguments because I was unable to contain all that anxiety without some of it spilling out.”
These are tough times for couples and single people alike, of course. But if you are living with your significant other, there are ways to be mindful and make things work smoothly.
Here’s how relationship experts are maintaining their relationships under one roof during the lockdown.
We give each other space.
As much as it’s nice to get up and have breakfast together in the morning, or both spend all evening on the sofa watching TV, it’s also healthy to have some time apart. Of course, that’s easier said than done during lockdown.
S*x and relationship therapist Miranda Christophers says, working on the premise of ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’, she’ll make sure she spends time alone each day – whether it’s working in a different room, having a video call meet up with friends or going for a run.
“Most people like a bit of their own time and space, and will appreciate their love partner more for having it,” she says. “It may be helpful to ask yourself every now and again if you’re feeling stifled – and communicate with each other if you need more time out.”
We have a date night every Friday.
Gigi Engle, a certified s*x coach, says she and her husband have a love date night every Friday, where they get a bottle of wine and order food in. “We both get dressed in real clothes,” she says. “I bring out the lingerie, we play music and dance together for hours. It’s special for us and helps us feel connected.”
Engle says they don’t drink during the week, so having Friday nights to look forward to gives them something to “get jazzed about” when they’re working hard.
Christophers also does this – come Friday she’ll dress up, order a takeaway or cook something nice with her love. And there’s strictly no talk of work, chores or coronavirus.
“Right now, a date might just be the pair of you sitting in another room and having a glass of wine or chat,” she says. “It doesn’t matter what it is, but making that time for you as a couple keeps you more connected.”
We stick to a routine.
At a time when we don’t have much control over lots of things in our lives, it’s wise to take control of your schedule – at the very least. Engle and her husband stick to a specific routine, which she says has worked well for them so far.
“He gets up at 7am and I sleep in until 8.30am,” she says. “We schedule everything. We have breakfast at the same time, we go on long walks and get our 10,000 steps, we do intense 60-minute workouts everyday. Sticking to a schedule helps the days feel fulfilling and doesn’t leave us feeling stifled.”
A strict schedule is also good to follow if you have kids, so you know who’s in charge at what point and take it in turns.
We set boundaries.
Boundaries are important, especially as work and home life blurs into one. Saddington says setting boundaries around the working day and the working environment – so it’s clear when he’s working and when he’s not – has been crucial for his relationship. He’s also wary of not letting work spill into home time.