You’re having anxiety about a relationship.
But this time it’s a smidge more specific. Going into a second lockdown has you thinking about how that worked out for you last time. And, well, maybe it was touch and go.
Or perhaps you managed it all really quite well but that’s because your partner was stuck in Italy and you actually spent the four months apart.
And you missed them, of course, but now you’re wondering if you can really spend THIS MUCH time together?
Regardless of what happened earlier this year and regardless the current state of things, it’s understandable to have anxiety about a relationship that’s about to go into isolation, again.
Although this was written for the colossal mind fuck that is the year 2020, these ‘must do’s’ below apply to any scenario where a couple might find themselves stuck together 24/7.
Perhaps both of you get the ‘normal’ flu and are bed ridden at home together.
Maybe the current climate has left you both at home searching for new jobs.
Or, just maybe, the zombie apocalypse will finally arrive and staying indoors with one another truly is safer than heading out onto the mean streets of zombie land (for the most part).
Below are three MUST DO’s to help your relationship through this upcoming isolation period.
Or indeed any time where things get thrown a bit out of whack. Plos One writes about the impact of Covid 19 on our mental health and quality of our relationships. And it’s true, it’s been a tough year and it’s not over yet.
Let’s try and make it through as emotionally healthy as we possibly can with the love for our partners still intact, shall we?
(If you’ve been truly struggling in your relationship this year then grab the ‘Relationship RECONNECT Toolkit’ to re-build your connections and strengthen the foundations of your relationship moving forward)
It seems like an obvious one this but let me explain.
We are notoriously bad at telling others what we want and need.
Some of us are really great at it and actually tip too far toward the other end of the spectrum, dabbling in the narcissistic. But for a lot of people the simple act of telling someone else what they NEED has them cringing inside.
However, more important than ever is having the ability to set clear boundaries and vocalize your wants and needs to your partner.
Having anxiety about a relationship can always be minimized and dealt with (regardless of the situation) with the implementation of healthy relationship boundaries.
And the only way to put these boundaries in place is to put those vocal chords to work as mentioned in The Health line article How to Handle Relationship Anxiety. Communication is key and always will be.
You’re potentially about to embark on a second period of time whereby you might find yourselves on top of one another (and not in the way that you’d hoped).
Couples struggled globally with the first lockdown because they weren’t used to spending 24/7 with their partner.
Their jobs, responsibilities, classes, hobbies and school run meant that where they were before fighting to grab some sweet, quality time with their partners now they had no time apart.
New couples were suddenly living together before they were truly ready. Or having to make a telephone relationship work when there wasn’t yet any sturdy groundwork to work with.
So, it’s important to manage your relationship anxiety by communicating to your partner what it is that you will want and need from them to make this time go as smoothly as possible.
Understand that you must be willing to hurt their feelings.
This is one of the most healthy relationship habits you could implement and yet it is one that many consider to be toxic.
You might have to explain to your partner that you need SPACE.
You might have to tell them about all of those little things that irritate you that you won’t be able to bottle up for four entire weeks.
Or perhaps you need to have your 1 hour a day out of the house on your walk, alone – so that you can have some peace and quiet for yourself.
Whatever it may be, you must express this clearly.
Raise your self-awareness surrounding your needs and theirs.
Anxiety about a relationship is one thing to be addressed but anxiety about a relationship surrounding its ability to withstand a period of time such as this, is another.
This is completely normal, friend.
You may have always had a strong connection with your partner. But even the strongest partnerships need to adapt to the circumstances they find themselves in.
So, don’t work yourself up worrying about how you’re possibly going to make it through as a couple in this new upside-down you find yourself in.
Open the doors of communication and listen to each other’s needs and wants.
The best piece of relationship advice I can give following the year 2020 is to communicate. Your partners cannot read your mind.
They do not know what you want or what you need unless you tell them.
You must respect each other’s boundaries at this time more than ever. Those little things that upset you and that you can usually let go of might not be so easy to drop when they are in your face 24/7.
Those annoying habits that you can usually escape from for 8 hours of the day when you’re in work might be harder to ignore when you don’t have any space from them.
New rules must be discussed and implemented to allow your relationship the greatest opportunity to get through to the end of this year healthy and stronger than ever.
FIND A NEW ROUTINE
This is two-fold.
Find a new routine for yourself and merge this with a new routine for you and your partner.
I read in an online article somewhere (most likely some trashy magazine) that one couple were able to survive the first lockdown unscathed by getting ready for work every morning like they usually would.
They left the house at separate times, walked around the block in different directions and then returned home half an hour later (again, at different times) to begin their working day.
They made it so that each morning was like they were still going into the office and it set down the boundary that between the hours of 9 and 5 they were working.
It was their time to focus on their work as usual.
No distractions and no veering off course.
For them this created a routine that mimicked the one they had before and allowed them to have a mutual understanding of what the day had in store for them.
Now, I am not suggesting that you take action that is as literal or drastic as this. And I am not suggesting that this will cure any anxiety you have about a relationship in isolation.
But, what I am suggesting is that you and your partner find your new routine.
We are creatures of habit and when we arrive in a time like this where all of our everyday actions go out the window, it can knock us for 6.
Suddenly we don’t know what to do with ourselves. We have all of this free time and everything is different.
What about catching that 7.37am train? Or grabbing our Costa coffee and having a morning chat with all of your colleagues before the working day starts?
How about not seeing those faces that you are used to spending most of your time with?
What about the evening fitness classes you go to straight from work?
It is entirely normal to feel thrown completely out of whack. This is why you need to change and adapt to this new temporary way of living.
Your old routines won’t work any longer so you need to plan new ones that you can live by.
Decide how you want to spend this time. Don’t allow yourself to develop bad habits or slip into old bad habits.
Organize yourself accordingly and then sit down with you partner and discuss how you can create a new routine for yourselves as a partnership.
Set time aside for doing work, get up at the same time every day and exercise in the evenings just as you would have.
Perhaps you create a routine that mimics your pre-lockdown routine as best you can. Or maybe you have to implement an entirely new one.
Whatever it may be, create your own and take the time to create a routine as a household that works for what you have planned individually.
Give each other this time to work this out properly. COMMUNICATE, set BOURNDARIES and establish new habits moving forward so that everyone gets the time and space they need whilst also keeping things structured.
Anxiety about a relationship in lockdown will be perpetuated if you don’t both work together. You must focus on what you have in your control.
A lot of things will fly out of the window. There might be many areas of your life where you might feel as though you have very little grasp.
Your relationship is not one of them. Your everyday routine is not one of them.
Manage your relationship anxiety by managing your relationship. And one way to do that is to adapt to the situation you find yourselves in and establish a NEW ROUTINE.
Your old one isn’t likely to work here.
SCHEDULE QUALITY TIME
Quality time is not the same as ‘time’.
You might be thinking, ‘Well, we’re going to be spending lots of quality time together now won’t we! It’s space I’ll need’.
Yes, you will most certainly need space. And this is where you will utilize the first 2 Must Do’s and set clear boundaries through communication before establishing a new routine that works for you both.
Space for yourself is important.
Time to self-reflect, live independently, practice self-care and maintain your own identity is key to a successful and happy relationship.
This is precisely why we have the first two must do’s.
But the third top tip I have for you here is to schedule quality time. And I want to explain to you exactly what this means for your relationship.
You might be spending more time with your partner than you could ever have hoped for.
You’re suddenly living on top of one another. And by the end you might welcome a break from looking at their beautiful face for 24 hours of the day however, spending all of this time together does not mean that you are indulging in QUALITY TIME.
Quality time can relieve any anxiety about a relationship in isolation because quality time means giving your partner your undivided attention.
It means turning off the television, putting down the phones and eliminating all distractions so you can focus on your partner and on your relationship.
You can use this time to check in, establish how you both are feeling and COMMINCATE any problems you may be experiencing.
Likewise, quality time for you might be as simple as sitting and holding one another. Or sharing a glass of wine over dinner or taking an evening stroll together.
You may well be thrown into spending more time together than you ever have had before. But this time does not necessarily qualify as quality time.
The hard truth is that relationships are tough and require work and resilience.
Making time for yourself is important; I reiterate – communicate, set boundaries and establish a new routine but making time for your relationship is equally important.
But don’t mistake the time you’re spending together for quality time.
If it’s helpful, then carve out a time in the diary every week for quality time. Perhaps set a rule that this is not to be cancelled for any reason other than an emergency because this needs to be treated with that high importance.
This lockdown period does not have to be the breaking of your relationship.
You might find that this is the toughest time you have yet to experience as a couple. But this is an opportunity to put your relationship to the test and come out of it stronger than ever.
(On an individual note: if you’re concerned about your emotional well-being going into this second lockdown or indeed any period of isolation then download a copy of ‘Emotional Resilience for the V.I.P’.
A 64 page e-book for boosting emotional resilience, re-framing your mind set and 51 tools and techniques for anxiety relief to help you through this next lockdown period).