The coronavirus pandemic has required us to adapt to many radical changes in a short period of time. Although the virus continues to pose a threat to our health, we continue to adapt our living conditions while being conscious of its presence.
Routines play a crucial role in this rapid transformation process. During the pandemic, we are increasingly working from home and spending less time outside, and therefore spending more time than ever with our family members. This has the potential to help nurture our relationships, but it can also be tiring and wearing. It might be helpful to contemplate how this change in the quality and quantity of time spent at home has affected your relationships. It’s probably easy to see the positive results: watching movies and TV series together, sharing household chores, having dinner more regularly, or just simply seeing each other more often–unlike during the hustle and bustle of your pre-pandemic lives. These are just some examples of the aspects of being together that can be beneficial. However, you may have difficulty in creating space and time for yourself when you are constantly sharing the same space. More importantly, you may start to ignore your needs, thinking that bringing them up might hurt your partner. In some ways, there may be some truth in your fears, and your partner may experience your needs as a sign of rejection. If this happens, remember that being true to yourself is important, and is necessary to provide you the motivation you need to create opportunities to fulfill your needs. Think long and hard about these reasons, which have healthy foundations, and then share them with your partner. This will allow your partner to differentiate between being unwanted and your need to be alone. In the end, instead of being a disturbing situation for both parties, creating space and time for yourself will foster an “experience of respecting limits” that can strengthen your relationship.
Your ability to create space for yourself shines a light on many other themes that impact your relationship. Every relationship has its unique narrative. This narrative has both good, nurturing and strengthening aspects as well as points that can cause strain. Difficulties can arise from many different issues; these can be everyday issues, but others may be much deeper, corresponding to your inner world. The subject of whatever is challenging you and your partner closely affects how you deal with that challenge. For example, you may feel more in control and rational about issues surrounding your daily life. On the other hand, you might feel more defensive and vulnerable when it comes to feeling safe, the need for intimacy and attachment. One way to cope with such difficulties is to be aware of yourself and your relationship. You can ask yourself the following questions: “How do I tend to express my needs?”, “How do I behave when I feel angry, hurt, anxious or nervous?”, “How do I express myself in such moments?”, “How does my body differ from when I am relaxed?” , “What messages do I send to my partner via the speed at which I speak, my tone of voice, gestures, facial expression, and body language?”, “Do they correspond to what I am trying to say?”, “In those moments, how do I look from the outside? ”, “Am I in the right state to listen to what my partner is saying ?”, “If I am not in the right state, am I able to take a break?” and “Which thoughts tend to pass through my mind during our discussions?”. Such questions can help you recognise what may be preventing you from trying to find solutions to your problems. It is also possible to answer all these questions in the name of your partner and share what you have noticed with them. When you are feeling safe in your communication, sharing the points that are important to you (but without any accusation) will help your partner develop their own awareness concerning these issues.
The pandemic has increased the stresses of daily life due to the uncertainty and many other negative factors it creates. This stress load, which is sometimes obvious and sometimes more hidden, can cause tolerance levels in relationships to be lower than usual. Therefore, issues which would not be that difficult to resolve under normal conditions can become a problem due to the stress and anxiety experienced by both parties, plus their lower tolerance levels. This situation may cause more frequent communication problems and misunderstandings. This is why it is crucial to figure out what is preventing you from establishing healthy communication with your partner, and to look for ways to improve it.
Close relationships are one of our most precious sources of psychological and physical well-being. Therefore, in addition to protecting your relationship from the stress created by the pandemic, discovering the resources and strengths of your relationship will also help both of you to feel happier and safer. Sharing your feelings and thoughts about the process with your partner is one of the primary things you can do. Even just sharing your fears, concerns about the present and the future, questions in your mind, sadness, and frustration can help you experience the pandemic in a safer environment. In such situations, sharing itself is a part of the solution, and is the most fundamental way to strengthen your intimacy with your partner.
You can seek help from your partner during rough patches. Knowing that you are not alone and have their support can make you feel safe, and this sharing strengthens the bonds of your relationship.
In the new normal, it is as necessary to create new ways to develop and nourish your relationship as it is to take care of yourself. Either at home or in safe places outdoors, you can share experiences that will sustain the joy and productivity of your relationship. You can see how you can adapt actions that nourished your relationship before the pandemic to our current conditions, and see what new experiences you can discover. It is easy to recognize the threat the pandemic presents to our safety, but our well-being consists of more than just keeping ourselves safe. Staying focussed on what brings you joy even in the current conditions will be good for both you and your relationship.
Translator: Ebru Peközer