Updated: Nov 4, 2020
Learn How to Maintain The Strength and Health of Your Relationship During the Pandemic, From a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Mental Health Expert!
Since the start of the COVID-19 in March of 2020, numerous individuals have been forced to remain inside for far longer than they would like. The increased time indoors and away from hobbies and other familiar routines can add to the stress of everyday life.
When you add that to schools being canceled and the normal difficulties of being in a relationship, these last few months have been especially strenuous for many couples and marriages.
Seeking a little help or advice to build healthy relationships doesn’t mean you are weak. In fact, it is actually a sign of strength and one of the best ways to solve your pandemic problems!
It is easy to allow yourself to become overwhelmed with the current state of the world and take that anger or stress out on your significant other. Now more than ever, it is important to stay proactive in maintaining a healthy relationship with the ones you love. For this reason, I’ve created this free online guide to building and maintaining healthy relationships during the Coronavirus pandemic.
The 9 Best Ways To Create and Maintain A Healthy Relationship During the Pandemic
1. Focus on FUN In Your Relationship!
Fun? You might be thinking, “How can I focus on fun during such stressful times?” Shifting your focus from stress to something that brings you joy, is a key element to creating not only a great relationship but also a great life. Your well-being, happiness, and relationship health are more important than ever before.
Creating space and time to “play” and engage in hobbies is one of the best ways to create a viable and healthy relationship during the quarantine.
Couples who spend more time doing what they love, spend far less time focusing on the negative aspects of the pandemic. Investing time in activities and experiences that feel good, create momentum over time. When you feel good, you attract more good experiences.
If you and your spouse share a hobby, create a scheduled time during your week that is designated to free yourself from the stress of daily worries and relax, have fun, and play more!
If in your relationship, you and your partner have separate interests or hobbies, that is OKAY! Use the designated time slot during the week to spend a little bit of time apart and work on yourself. There is absolutely nothing wrong with spending allotments of time apart to invest in yourself and practice a little self-love. In fact, there is everything right about that!
A healthy life and relationship is one where you can be interdependent (which is a nice combination of dependence and independence blended together in an easy-going way).
When you are happier and feel more relaxed during the pandemic, I guarantee you it will be far easier to work out problems or issues that arise in your relationship during lockdown! Your mindset will be more open and available to resolution for any obstacle when you are coming from a peaceful place inside yourself.
A large part of creating fun during these stressful times is by working on yourself! Learn more about self-care strategies during the quarantine here!
2. Control Less
During the recent pandemic, many individuals have felt stressed about not being able to control where they go or what they can do. This is completely normal! Feeling out of control is not something many people are used to in 2020.
I think the overall tendency for people plucked out of their normal routines is to panic a little bit (or a lot). When your mind is stressed and you feel anxious, you literally don’t have access to the part of your brain that is in charge of rational thinking. Anxiety shuts down the part of your brain responsible for thinking clearly and logically. Relax your mind more by letting go of attempting to control things beyond yourself.
If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed by this sudden lack of control, both personally and in your relationship, it is time to LET GO! I am guessing that might sound terrifying to some, and I imagine you might have resistance against that idea.
I will remind you again that you really never had control in the first place. Remember, you have no power to control what others do and no control what is happening around you. What you can control is how you respond to what is happening.
Make a list of things that are causing you to feel anxious or out of control. Look at your list and separate the things you can change, and the things you can’t. Make a clear decision to surrender to the items on your list that are about other people or conditions going on around you. Stop focusing on those aspects. Give them none of your time, energy or attention.
With the list of items that DO pertain to you on the side of the list of things you CAN control, decide what actions or steps you will make to immediately help yourself feel better.
For example, you can’t control being restricted with what you can do in your community, but you CAN control how you decide to feel about the restriction. You can say, “This is a great opportunity for me to do things around my house I have been needing to do for years.” Thinking that way would cause you to feel productive and happy. Or you can say, “I feel so bored and irritated.” Thinking those thoughts would cause you to feel more stressed and mad.
What you focus on creates the way you feel. If you don’t like the results you are seeing in your life, take time to determine where you can shift your focus. Give your attention to things you WANT.
Surrender, which means let go of, or stop giving energy or attention to the things you DON’T want. When you decide to be intentional and clear about what you will give your valuable time and energy to, it will be far easier to cope with the situation at hand when you master ‘going with the flow.’
This step can feel scary and difficult for numerous reasons, but once you experience the freedom that comes with letting go, you will never try to control things outside of yourself anymore.
Taking responsibility for controlling your behaviors only, and letting go of trying to control your significant other is a vital element on your journey to creating an emotionally safe and effective relationship for the duration of this pandemic and beyond.
3. Adjust Your Expectations In Your Relationship
While this step sounds simple enough, it is actually far more difficult than you may expect. Humans carry the beliefs they developed from long ago and many of these beliefs stay tucked away in our subconscious mind. What we believe drives our behavior, our choices, and what we value.
Without realizing it, someone’s belief system may interfere with their ability to be present, rational and logical, especially during high-stress experiences. Conflict arises from belief systems and if you are unaware of which beliefs are driving the conflict, you won’t be as clear about how to resolve the conflict.
Taking time to stop and recalibrate what we expect to happen and what we want from our relationships requires very specific, intentional steps. First and foremost, understand what underlying belief you hold. For example, “I believe relationships are 'give and take' and that we treat each other with respect.”
Then take time to recognize and write down a list of what is working and not working. For example, “What is working is how we share in the household tasks since we both work.” Then you can identify what is not working. For example, “What is not working is how there are yelling and name-calling when we disagree.”
Once you are clear about your mental process that drives your behavior, make a written list of things you want to be different. You might write, “I want us to take turns sharing perspectives about the problem.
I want us to use a calm, loving tone of voice when we speak. I want us to be able to listen without interrupting each other. I want my relationship to be caring, considerate and loving.”
The next thing you would do is figure out how to take full responsibility to create that list of items you want regardless of what the other person does. You have a lot of power to create the life you want.
4. Don’t give away your power.
People give their power away and wait for other people to change in order to feel better. This is not necessary. You have everything you need inside yourself to create the life you want and to feel happier now. It’s an understandable argument that this shift in your thinking may be hard, but isn’t it more difficult to stay frustrated and stuck? Habits take time to create. Be patient with yourself while you do the work.
Just do the work. No excuses. You are worth the investment. There is always a solution. Once you create clarity in your mind about what you want and believe with certainty there is a way to get want, then the answers you are looking for will begin to reveal themselves. It is crucial to take time to relax your brain and quiet your mind. Care for yourself by tending to your thoughts, feelings and desires. Do you see now why this is so important? When you feel better, the relationships around you get better.
Learning how to have healthy relationships and change expectations isn’t something that happens overnight. Practice intentional living. At the beginning of your day, take a few minutes to stop and think about what you want and expect to happen. Once you have clarity about what you want, decide which steps you will take to make those things happen.
Spending these few minutes each morning recalibrating your goals, desires and expectations for the day can lead to a happy, healthy life and relationship.
5. Plan A ‘Relationship Evaluation Day’ Once A Week
It’s not often that couples plan an actual day to reevaluate how their relationship is going but there is no better time than now during COVID-19 to begin this valuable strategy to build a strong relationship.
Select one day a week where you and your spouse or significant other sit down for 30 minutes to an hour to engage in a relaxed and meaningful conversation about your week.
During this time, one person calmly discusses what went well and what areas need work. It is imperative to keep an open mind during this talk and remember that your loved one is expressing their view on the week, even if it doesn’t align with yours. When one person is talking, the other is actively listening.
They are not interrupting, rolling their eyes, making annoyed expressions with their face. They are simply listening, making eye contact, and caring about what the other person is saying. If you want your relationship to improve, then it is important to care about how your partner is experiencing the relationship. Both of you matter. It is fantastic to be open to improvement. After all, why are you in the relationship if you both don’t want to be happy? Be open and receptive to everything that creates progress.
Do your best to be receptive to feedback and take any constructive criticism into account for your week moving forward. You will find that if you both communicate in a loving way, and actively listen to each other’s perspectives, you will feel a sense of hope and joy about your relationship.
Taking the time to evaluate your relationship regularly is a phenomenal way to build a strong relationship not only during the Coronavirus lockdown, but for any point in time! Sometimes a little bit of planning is all you need to have a healthy relationship.
6. Dream Together: Discuss Shared Fantasies and Goals in Your Relationship
Dreaming of easier, carefree times or of future plans and vacations is a great way to escape from the trials and tribulations of life during quarantine.
While many of us spend time daydreaming about fantastic goals or idyllic locations, sharing this experience with your partner can be an amazing bonding experience.
When you share your dreams with someone, you are sharing a part of yourself not often revealed. Doing this with a loved one or spouse can make laughing together and sharing a happy moment feel natural, even if you’re currently locked inside! Making a vision board together can be fun too! Have some fun and cut out or print pictures of places you want to go, things you want to do, and the life you want to experience and paste them to a giant board somewhere you can hang in your house to look at often. You would be shocked at how many things come to fruition when you do this. It really is fun!
7. Speak Your Mind
Expressing yourself and voicing your concerns is a vital step in preventing any subconscious resentment towards the person you love.
Having a safe space where you speak your most intimate thoughts or complaints allows you to separate yourself from the anger and stress that comes with holding in any negative thoughts. When you let negative thoughts linger, the thoughts become toxic and end up contaminating regular interactions between you and your partner.
Holding back intimate thoughts or desires can lead to a breakdown in communication between you and your partners and numerous studies have shown that communication is the most important part of any relationship!
8. Meditate Together
While many know about mediation, few actually implement this valuable experience in their lives. Meditation has been shown in studies to be a critical element in relieving stress and anxiety from the lives of individuals during COVID-19. Meditation is not a mystery. It is simply getting into a comfortable position, quieting your monkey mind, and releasing every thought in order to clear your mind. Sounds easy, right?
No, in fact, it is not at first. If you are new to meditating, start with 60 seconds of breathing slowly in your nose for a count of 6 and exhaling out of your mouth for a count of 6. Do this 6 times as you only focus on your breath. Voila. That is meditating! As you get better at quieting your mind, clearing your thoughts, then do it for a longer period of time. Many studies done at Harvard University have shown that meditating is one of the best ways to improve your overall life and enhance your relationships.
Spending just 5 minutes or more at the start of every day meditating has an enormous impact on workplace productivity, interpersonal relationships, and effectiveness in achieving personal goals.
Start your meditation practice today and in a month from now sit down together and assess how it has enhanced your life and relationship. You will be pleasantly surprised by what a great difference meditating together can do for your relationship.
Beginning this invaluable journey with your loved one or spouse can be a great way to relax together while learning a new skill. Learning together is a powerful way to bond with your and build a strong relationship, no matter how long you have been together!
9. Be Vocal With Your Praise
Let’s be honest, most of us spend far too much time nitpicking the negative aspects or elements in our lives. Focusing on the small, bad parts of your life can drastically, negatively affect your mood and outlook on everyday life during the quarantine.
Making a valid effort to focus on all the good things in your life, and in your relationship, rather than the bad, can be tremendously vital in your journey towards a healthy relationship.
Every day, do your best to tell your partner or spouse what they are doing well or excelling at that time. Notice, out loud, their strengths and wonderful qualities. (Remember, what you focus on is what you create)! You have to admit, we, as a society, tend to focus on what is wrong rather than what is going right.
Change that for yourself and your relationship and start complimenting them on what you love, cherish and value most about them. During these times, a little compliment goes a long way! Be vocal with your recognition of great qualities in your relationships.
Use These Steps To Break Free From the Routine Relationship!
If you feel that your relationship is stale or in a stuck cycle, implement the above advice for relationships that have become routine.
Don’t let your relationships fall through the cracks during these trying times because you feel a little stuck or trapped in your routine.
Spend the time necessary each week investing in both yourself and your relationship and you will realize what a tremendously powerful creator you are of all that you desire.
If you find it difficult to communicate with your partner marriage counseling is always an amazing option. For couples counseling in the Santa Clarita area, send me a message and I would be happy to help out!
Let me know in the comments below what you are doing in your relationship that is working and what areas you want more guidance with. I am happy to help!
About the Author: Dilyse Diaz is a nationally recognized mental health and wellness expert, a licensed psychotherapist in California, an award-winning author, and appears on national television helping people learn practical tools to enhance their life. For couples therapy in Santa Clarita, California, contact Dilyse Diaz today!