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My Relationship Changed During Quarantine. What Now?

Many couples will emerge from Covid-19 quarantine with a slightly different dynamic than they had prior. There will be new questions and challenges resulting from the prolonged experience of forced intimacy, which will require an adjustment to the relationship. One of the most difficult challenges couples will face as a result of the time spent social distancing and in quarantine protocols, is the illumination of bothersome things about each other that they were previously unaware of or were able to ignore. During normal circumstances couples can enjoy varying levels of decompressing time away from each other engaged in activities that bring individual pleasure, social connectedness, and promote personal growth. The forced intimacy of quarantining has removed this previously available escape as an option, forcing couples to remain in proximity even during times of conflict or interpersonal stress. In this environment romantic, occupational, social, and other interests become intertwined, exacerbating existing issues, and placing additional pressures on the relationship. The good news is that research indicates that working through difficulties can strengthen relationships. These pressures can be overcome if the foundational values of the relationship remain constant and strong. To do so you will need to make some adjustments to incorporate the new realities of your relationship. Here are five things that you can do to effectively deal with the new reality of your partnership:

1.       Address any new problems or issues honestly and with a solution-focused approach.
Pretending that problems that the quarantine exposed do not exists or chucking them off to the time spent together is not an option. You will have to face the problems in a healthy way that focuses not on assigning blame but on identifying and selecting solutions.
2.       Incorporate any new activities that were useful during quarantine into your relationship moving forward. 
Continue those evening walks, family game nights, or weekend bike rides. Make those activities a regular part of your routine as a couple. It will improve your individual health as well as the health of your relationship.
3.       Schedule me-time wherein you can create moments to be yourself.
The time in quarantine has reinforced the importance of individual time away from your partner. Set aside specific time for you as an individual to engage in activities that promote individual growth. Individual growth will in-turn have a residual positive impact on your relationship.
4.       Keep a positive attitude. Use positive affirmations and reinforce positive behaviors.
Your positive attitude and energy will positively impact those around you including your partner and family.
5.       Examine the strategies that you employed during quarantine that allowed you and your partner to work through issues and arguments in a positive and healthy way.
Include those strategies in your toolbox and utilize them as a regular part of a solution-focused approach to resolving disputes and solving problems that arise in your relationship.

Taking these five steps will help you to construct new individual and relationship goals aimed at creating a deeper and more satisfying connection between you and your partner. Make it fun and enjoy the ride.


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