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How to manage relationship difficulties during coronavirus

Let’s be clear: this is a new situation for everyone. We’re living through a period of uncertainty which has caused huge upheaval for us all.

So it’s normal to be feeling vulnerable at the moment. And we’re all going to process this vulnerability in different ways.

Whether you’re self-isolating together, co-home schooling the kids or feeling the pressure of financial worries, understand that even with the best will in the world – your relationship is likely to be feeling the heat right now.

Conflict is to be expected but it doesn’t have to mean make or break.

Below, we’ve compiled our tips for working through relationship difficulties during this time – so you come out together even stronger the other side.

Spending too much time together

The current situation means a lot of couples who normally spend large parts of their day apart are coming together. This provides an opportunity to reconnect but it can also put strain on the relationship, particularly if you were already experiencing difficulties.

If you’ve been thrown into self-isolation with your partner and you’re feeling the pressure, the first thing to do is acknowledge that this is a unique and difficult situation (for everyone). Spending every waking hour with someone is going to put pressure on any relationship. So try to be as compassionate as you can – both with yourself and your partner. 

Consider having an open conversation about what level of togetherness vs distance you will both benefit from. Perhaps you work separately but then come together for lunch, for instance. It’s about being open, flexible and kind to each other. Try and make each other’s lives easier as you navigate this new setup.

If you’re both working from home, you might want to create some kind of structure around where you’re working e.g. one of you choosing to work from the kitchen, and the other the dining room so you both maintain your own space.

Communication is always important in a relationship but now more so than ever. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, voice it. Having open conversations about your worries is going to help you work something out in a calm and grounded way instead of allowing resentment to build.

Financial worries

Conflict is to be expected at the moment as everyone is in a more vulnerable state, and money differences can be especially triggering. Remind each other this is nobody’s fault – everyone is struggling.

Try sitting down together with a spreadsheet and drawing up a budget. Work out what finances are available and how you’re going to manage your spending during this time.

There are a lot of changes in the way we’re spending money at the moment so this is likely to look different to how it did before. 

Don’t forget to make space for activities that are going to provide you with a sense of wellbeing e.g. online yoga classes, books etc. This is a difficult time and it’s important to be topping up your energy bank with things that bring you a sense of wellbeing and enjoyment.

Managing long distance

If you’re battling with being apart, remind each other that whilst this is a stressful time, it’s only temporary. Keep up communication in as many ways as possible – whatsapp, facetime… And get creative with how you choose to share your time together e.g. schedule a “date night”, drink wine and share stories about your day. 

Take it as an opportunity to practice good communication (even at a distance). Make sure you’re openly discussing anything you’re concerned about or struggling with.

Home schooling stress

Home schooling is going to prove more or less challenging depending on whether your parenting style is already naturally aligned or not. Make sure you have an open conversation for how you’re going to manage the next few weeks. 

Schedule a brainstorming session where you think of fun things you can do together as a family. Agree on how you’re going to balance time in terms of activities that are educational and those that are more fun and recreational. 

Acknowledge that this is likely to be a stressful situation for everyone. You’re not expected to get it perfect – “good enough” is just fine.

Everyone’s emotions are heightened at the moment. You might find that a relationship issue you’ve been struggling with for a while gets highlighted during this time. If that’s the case, take it as an opportunity to address it and start afresh. 

Most importantly, be compassionate and focus on taking it just one day at a time. Don’t try to predict the future or consider the most negative outcome. Commit to living in the present, moment by moment. 

Now more than ever is the time to realise that’s all we have.