Has the extra time with your significant other caused more harm than good? Relationship disasters are preventable. Avoid killing each other in isolation with some simple steps towards your mental well being.
The majority of us are being asked to stay home, meaning a lot more time with your significant other. For some this is a blessing, but for others it has spelled disaster. We are facing a serious health crisis, but relationship disasters can prove even worse for you in the long run.
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Almost 19% of U.S. households visit medical clinics in any given year, but right now our medical facilities are essentially bursting at the seams. Beyond the obvious, isolation is also affecting the population in other concerning ways. For couples living together, tensions can rise as they are confined in close proximity 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If this sounds like you, then pay close attention. How can couples survive quarantine without relationship disasters? Four simple things will help.
How to Avoid Relationship Disasters
1. Create Space for ‘Alone Time’
Did you know that the typical American commuter spends about 42 hours in traffic per year? That may seem like a waste of time when you’re in the middle of it, but that’s also 42 hours you’re left alone to reflect and enjoy some ‘me time.’ If you’re now working from home, your morning commute has likely been diminished to the few seconds. That’s super convenient and undoubtedly saves a ton of money on gas, but you’re also losing that quiet time you usually have to yourself.
If you’re missing your alone time, then take 20 minutes or so and sit in your car. Turn on your favorite radio station, Spotify playlist, podcast, or whatever you once listened to during your commute. Don’t drive anywhere unless you want to. Just sit. Bring your cup of coffee with you and add back in some normalcy. It can go a long way towards peace at home.
Even if you don’t have a car, there are other ways to carve out some alone time. If you live in a house or apartment with multiple rooms, designate areas as peaceful places for ‘me time.’ Another option is to work in a different room than your partner. The bathroom doesn’t need to be your only space for solitude.
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Don’t be afraid to get creative, especially if you are co-habitating in a studio apartment. Invest in a pair of earplugs or noise-canceling headphones and set up your living space so that it is divided into sections. Segregate your workspace from your partners’ workspace with some sort of barrier. Do this even if the barrier is something small and unobtrusive like a side table or a decorative basket. The idea is to be able to split the area in your mind, giving you a sense of ownership over your own workspace. Then craft a distinctive space for spending time together.
2. Schedule ‘Together Time’ and ‘Alone Time’
Now that you have your space divided up, it’s important to use that space wisely. It may be easy and tempting to break through those physical barriers, especially if they’re not actual walls or doors. But if you’re finding your partner’s presence distracting or irritating, you need to set some social barriers as well. You’re not used to spending all hours of the day with your significant other. Humans are inherently social creatures, yet we’re not all designed to engage with each other all the time. Try to stick to a ‘normal’ workday schedule, isolating yourself as much as possible during your typical work hours. Then spend meal times and evenings together as you usually would.
3. Reach Out to Friends and Family
Your partner may be your ‘one and only’ in a romantic sense, but there’s a reason we don’t isolate ourselves after saying our wedding vows. Different relationships offer different things. Make sure you’re taking time to socialize with the other people in your life, both friends and family. It is emotionally draining to be someone’s support system 24/7. You can’t rely on your partner for your every need. That’s unfair. Friends and family also provide great love and support from afar, and you can do the same for them. Video chat technology lets you connect with loved ones all over the world. Even a simple phone call or text message can help you stay connected and grounded.
4. Plan for the Future
It’s easy to lose some spark when every day looks the same, but we must prevent the anxiety and depression from causing relationship disasters. It’s important to remember that this isolation will end. Everything is temporary, so keep looking forward together. We don’t know what the future will look like, so while you’re stuck inside, start making plans, even loose ones.
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If you’re tired of staring at your same old walls and kitchen cabinets, start designing your dream home interior. In 2018, 14% of homeowners were planning to make improvements to their kitchens. Money might be tight, but now is a great time to do some research. Figure out what kinds of changes you can afford. Make plans for the future because they inspire optimism and positive thinking. It’s also a great way to bond with your partner about something that excites you both.
It’s been over a month since the term ‘social distancing’ became a part of our everyday vocabulary. But there are some people we simply can’t distance ourselves from, nor would we want to! Being stuck in close proximity with your significant other for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, six weeks straight, isn’t the ever-romantic honeymoon you may have pictured. That doesn’t mean relationship disasters are looming.
If you’re not mindful, our current isolation may threaten your relationship. By creating space for yourself to be alone, setting boundaries, connecting with friends and family from afar, and planning for the future, you can build an environment that allows a healthy relationship to not only survive, but thrive.
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