Divorce rates are soaring in China as couples go weeks being stuck in the same house. Honestly, it's no surprise. Enduring the stress and fear of a global pandemic with no end in sight is hard enough on a person without adding being quarantined to one place with other people to the mix! Suddenly you have to manage your own emotions and someone else's all while trying to physically survive with two boxes of pasta and some old cans of beans. And if you're at the end of your toilet paper hoard? Phew... have you got a tense situation on your hands.
Here are 10 rules to make sure you and your space stay romantic, kind, and happy during your home quarantine together. After all, this could either be a very stressful time or a great opportunity to draw closer together.
It all depends on your attitude!
10 Relationship Tips for Quarantined Couples
1. Don't judge each other
Your partner may be making some unusual choices while stuck at home, and it's important that you don't judge him or her too harshly. Is he eating every half hour? Ok. Is she binge watching TV? Fine. Does he stay in bed until 10:00 am? Alright.
These are stressful circumstances, and to keep the peace in your home you have to recognize the little things and Let. Them. Go.
If it's hard not to pass judgement, try taking a deep breath and thinking about something else in the moment that something bothers you. It will give you a much-needed break to think clearly about how to re-phrase your criticism nicely, or, better yet, decide not to say it at all.
2. Listen when they have something to say or need attention
You are both starved for social interraction right now, and you may not even realize it until the sound of your partner's voice starts to annoy you to no end. It can be a huge challenge to only have one face-to-face communication partner!
As much as you may want to lash out at yet another conversation about COVID-19 speculations or celebrity news gossip, remember that this could be one of your partner's way of coping with the crises. It doesn't cost much from you to sit and listen to their story, reply with a simple, "That's interesting!", and then kindly say that you'll be working from another room.
Flat out telling someone that you aren't interested in hearing their whiny voice one more time and how did they even find you crouched in the closer where you obviously wanted some alone time forgoodnesssake could cause a rift between the two of you, which is what you desperately want to avoid.
3. Express when you need alone time (and designate private spaces)
It is not only ok but entirely necessary to communicate your need for privacy when stuck together 24/7.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to be alone for a while, and your partner should understand that having time apart is no reflection on the strength of your relationship.
When you feel a little suffocated and want some peace and quiet to bing a show or nap without judgement, calmly give your partner a smile and say, "I'm going to head to the bedroom for some quiet time. Could you give me an hour or two alone?" A smile lets them know that this is for your sanity, not because of them, and adding a clear time frame let's them know you are serious and helps you both create boundaries during your time in separate corners.
4. Make a list of joint chores
It becomes way too easy to do absolutely nothing when you're stuck inside all day. Couples thrive by having common activities and things to do, which doesn't have to stop just because you're under quarantine!
Combat the boredom and come together in a productive way by deciding on a list of chores you can accomplish as a team on a daily basis. Make the goal of spending 15 or 30 minutes cleaning every day, and divide up who does what.
At the end of the day you will feel better about having a clean house and that you were both working toward a common goal which serves everyone. This kind of service is what will help bond a couple during a time of stress!
5. Small acts of service (including compliments and gratitude)
Just as cleaning the house together uplifts everyone around, a small act of service can also lift your partner's mood and ease any tension that arises in the home.
Think of things you can do daily to show your partner you care about them: offer a back massage, buy their favorite candy at the store, suggest a video call with their best friend or family member, offer to watch a movie they like or play a game they love.
Don't forget about the super simple, extremely effective form of service of giving compliments! Your partner is probably feeling anxious over missing work, stressed about being cooped inside, sad to miss a party or event, and self-concious about not being able to exercise or present their best. Remind him or her that they are loved, beautiful, interesting, talented, and important to you as often as you can.
You also need to express gratitude as often as possible. Just like giving a compliment, saying "Thank you" is a valuable way to boost someone without costing you anything. Acknowledge when your partner does the dishes, cooks dinner, helps the children with something, makes the bed, or just respects your alone time.
An act of service can go a long way in mending any quarrels that arose while you were trying to share the same desk space!
6. Don't give up on yourself
It's scientifically proven that getting dressed up lifts your mood. Isn't it?
In any case, it will help you feel better and show some respect to your partner to keep yourself presentable during quarantine.
I'm not talking little black dress and full makeup, but at least change into some clean daytime pajamas, brush your hair, and put on a little mascara. Everyone benefits when regular showers are part of the equation!
7. Make time for romance
When you are stuck with another person 24 hours a day romance can become the last thing on your mind. You've seen them burp, fart, and pee 12 times today and got into a fight over who was hogging the internet bandwidth.
Yes, your partner is gross and inconsiderate. You are, too. Get over it.
Make time for romance to ensure your relationship doesn't cross the line into friend zone (yes, this can be especially true for married couples!) Tell her she looks pretty, give him a random hug or lingering kiss, and try to make time to be together in the bedroom.
This Tonight/ Not Tonight throw pillow by Oh, Susannah is a great communication tool to easily indicate if you're in the mood for some private time. I'll just leave it at that.
8. Communicate hurt feelings, annoyances, or needs
This is a given for any relationship, but it's especially true when you are both trying to accomplish a lot of things while stuck inside indefinitely.
Give someone the benefit of the doubt that they didn't mean to hurt your feelings when they asked you to be quiet while they took a call in your common space, but bring it up to them later if it really bothered you. Suggest a better way that they can ask for privacy in the future, so it's not left to chance if the situation arises again.
Are you getting annoyed that you end up doing all of your partner's dishes that pile up all day? Ask your partner why they don't do the dishes, listen to their response, and suggest that it's something you do together (or suggest something they could do which would be helpful to you as you do something helpful for him or her).
If you let too many slights, insults, or annoyances pile up it could drive a wedge between you that is hard to mend. Fight the urge to hold it in by calmly and kindly talking about the behaviors that bother you once the timing is right so you don't hold a grudge for too long. There is simply no space for assumptions and hurt in quarantine.
9. Show respect and kindness
It's tempting to barge into your partner's office when you have an interesting thought and know for a fact he or she is in there, but do so respectfully. Knock on the door, check if they are busy, and ask if they have time to talk for a minute. (And be understanding if the response is, "Actually, I'm in the middle of something pretty important. Can we talk later?")
You and your partner may not always be on the same page during this quarantine. If you are, great! Interrupt away! But first field the situation and show some respect to your partner's work, personal space, and indulgences before invading.
Don't assume he or she wants to do, talk about, watch, or listen to the same things you do at the same times, and don't interrupt them if they are in the middle of their own activity (even if it's just scrolling Reddit or playing a game on their phone.)
It's fine if you want to share something with them, just approach it nicely and respectfully instead of thinking they are just waiting for you to save their day with something that's really only important to you. (And if your partner is the one approaching you with something you don't find all that interesting, just indulge them nicely before moving on to something you actually enjoy.)
10. Be Patient
We are all trying to figure out this "new normal", and our daily habits and priorities are bound to change as we adjust.
Be patient with your partner if it takes him or her longer to do something than normal, if they don't want to do something you'd expect of them, if they say or do the wrong thing...
Give them the benefit of the doubt, turn the other cheek, take a deep breath, and remember that you love them. We all need love.
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