How to Maintain a Healthy Relationship During COVID-19
We are now beyond a month of quarantine here at Land Sailors Travel just like many globally. The one thing we didn’t plan for this year was to be apart. We had a backup plan for every possible situation while abroad but the thing that always remained constant was the fact that we would be together—that and we definitely didn’t plan for an epidemic.
Whenever we spend long periods apart we have the opportunity to plan and prepare. But COVID-19 didn’t allow us to prepare for anything. We had to leave belongings and people behind in Germany and say goodbye to each other temporarily. Without anywhere to call our own in Canada and no income, moving in with our parents became the only option. The issue is that those cities are 7 hours apart so seeing each other regularly isn’t possible. Going from spending every day together for 8 months to no face-to-face interaction all at once was difficult and remains a daily challenge. Adjusting to all the challenges of COIVD-19 is an emotional struggle most people haven’t experienced in their lifetime. So, how do we handle our long-distance relationship in one of the most stressful times of the 21st century? Continue reading for some helpful suggestions on how to maintain a healthy relationship during quarantine.
Before we started travelling I worked as a counsellor for youth as well as front of house in adult social services. On top of my post-secondary eduction, working in the field taught me a lot more about how to navigate through emotional barriers. Hannah and I are very flexible people—we go with the flow and let things play out but not every relationship (or every person) is like that; that being said, we’ve had to talk about the idiosyncrasies we have and how it makes each other feel. Fortunately, we rarely argue due to the mixture between the loveable, no conflict, kind-hearted nature of Hannah and the patience in explaining and listening I have developed in my field of work— inanimate objects of every kind, people who cut in line, and driving are excluded indefinitely.
Schedule a Routine
It’s never easy to have an established routine suddenly broken. Whether you are stuck inside with your SO (and perhaps the kiddies) or are miles apart, a routine can really help maintain good mental health. Luckily we have the internet and phone communication! If you’re used to seeing your partner before work or in the evenings after school etc, establish a schedule with them to talk like you normally would before COVID-19 happened. Something that you should also consider is time management. Without work, fitness, organized events, church, etc it can be very easy to feel trapped or overwhelmed with all the spare time: what do you do and when do you do it? If you’re with your partner, make a plan for the week or even a few days in advance to do activities together that you both enjoy. Plan at least one night a week to have a romantic evening—even if it’s over Facetime! It may sound a bit silly but dressing nicely, ordering your favourite takeout, and eating together whether it’s virtual or IRL can help you feel closer together.
It’s also important to find balance between your partner and other relationships. Even though COVID-19 has had a negative impact on everyone, a small positive to take from it is that you can spend more time with your family. We’ve all seen the memes where some people are finally “finding out” what their partners do for work because for the first time these people have time to REALLY talk. Wild. Talking to your partner indefinitely is awesome of course, but you wouldn’t normally have that ability. It is very important to still do activities that you don’t have in common with each other. You don’t usually do everything together so don’t feel pressured to use every ounce of your spare time together. It’s okay for people to have different interests and explore those interests independently. Have this conversation! It might be tough at first to establish balance (especially if the conversation is online) but it is much preferable to finding yourself frustrated and accruing a larger need for personal space and/or exploding.
Don’t Put Everything On Your Partner
One of the biggest issues with being unable to experience the outside world is not feeling fulfilled. Your partner can be your best friend, soundboard, chef, nurse, gaming buddy, and everything in between but you don’t want to burn them out. Something to avoid during quarantine is developing the expectation that your partner will be your entire fulfillment. There are many areas of life that we may not consciously consider fulfilling (like a shitty job) but we get something out of every routine we have (i.e your shitty job may have led to great friendships). The main point is that a partner cannot realistically fulfill every part of us and you shouldn’t expect them to nor should they expect that from you. They can’t be everything you’re missing due to COVID-19 and expecting them to will only lead to frustration and burnout. Instead of wanting them to fill in specific gaps, try new things with them like watching new shows, taking virtual tours or online classes that might interest you both. Finding new things that fulfill you will take your mind away from everything you’re missing during quarantine. Sharing it with the person you love makes it much better, too!
Don’t Forget About Other People
While you’re having all this super-awesome-funtastic playtime with your partner it might be easy to fall off the face of the earth—maybe into the Netflix vortex. But don’t forget about the other people in your life who are also stuck inside! Call your family, friends, co-workers, to check in and see how they’re doing. Watch a movie together virtually or play games online with them. This goes back to balance. Everyone is facing similar issues during COVID-19 and we must help one another through it. My best friend brought my groceries and sat in her car across the street while I talked to her from my balcony during isolation and just seeing her made me feel relieved and elated. People need other people but there are creative solutions to stay safe while interacting. STAY HOME WE HAVE THE INTERNET.
One of the “no-brainers” might be to talk to your partner about what is bothering you or the fears you have during quarantine. I am a gabber box while Hannah is more reserved so I have to pull things out of her sometimes. Be open even if it’s uncomfortable. Solidarity is very key to maintaining morale and bottling negative emotions inside can lead to unintended outward expressions of anger and resentment toward the wrong audience. Negative emotions can be ugly especially when they’re directed unintentionally at those you love. It’s not your fault or your partner’s fault that COVID-19 has changed everything, but it is within your power to dictate the conversations you have with your loved ones and to practice emotion regulation. When you’re feeling angry or hurt about the situation, talk to your partner. Even if you don’t talk to them, talk to SOMEONE. It is the best way to start healing from the uprooting we’ve all faced during COVID-19.
Have Lots of Great Sex
Do it. Literally. Scientifically proven to boost immunity, mood, help with sleeping issues, and reduce mild pain (like headaches), sex is a great home remedy for quarantine blues. Remember to have SAFE SEX, though! Our hospitals are at capacity as is. Living apart? Well the good news is you can purchase sex toys that are controlled via apps so you can pleasure your partner thousands of miles away. Check out the Men’s Health list of 13—they are pricey but it may give you an idea of what’s out there so you can do some research on your own 😉
Have any tips of your own, sailors? Leave them in the comments! We would love to hear about everything you are doing with your partners to maintain a healthy relationship during quarantine.
We’d also like to shout out to all of the essential workers who are on the front lines! We appreciate you so much and, hopefully, will be joining you soon to fight this battle!
Stay strong, sailors. We are in this together 💪💜