By Corey Lewis, CPT, CSCS
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, so how do you keep your romance alive when you spend all your time together? Pandemics, social unrest, and political difficulties have combined to create the perfect storm. If our relationships are to weather this storm, we must rely on each other and strengthen our intimate bonds. The strain that comes with sheltering in place is taking a toll on relationships. Many couples are splitting up, but times like these can also help people forge tighter bonds. Healthy couples use adversity to create deep, meaningful connections that can last a lifetime. Join me as I explore how to maintain a healthy relationship.
Every relationship has conflict. In order to thrive, it is important to be aware of the magic relationship ratio. For every negative interaction you have with your partner, you need at least five positive interactions or your relationship will suffer. You don’t have to be sneaky about it, but you do have to be sincere.
Spending more time with your partner can be a positive experience that deepens your sense of intimacy. It may require a little more work and planning, but it can be easy if you are prepared.
One of the best ways to maintain your healthy relationship is to remind yourself of all the little things your partner does that make you smile. Take some time every day to show genuine appreciation for the things they do. This can be formal or informal, as long as you are honest and don’t sound scripted. Over time, this exercise can turn into a genuine habit of praise and could earn you a reputation for being observant and thoughtful.
You have to be careful not to ignore conflict, though. It is not healthy to hide from problems, and learning how to discuss your differences in a mature fashion deepens understanding and love. One of the traits I value most in a partner is the ability to disagree without being disagreeable. I don’t want to make any more mistakes than I have to, so it’s vital for my friends and loved ones to give me honest feedback. Relationships aren’t just about company; they are also a rich source of wisdom and learning.
After the work is done, the fun begins. It’s important to relax and blow off steam, so find some fun activities for couples that you and your partner can both enjoy. Even if it’s just a walk in the park or a few hours alone, the little things make the best memories. If you build a solid foundation, experiencing hard times will bring you closer together instead of further apart.
Humility and maturing are essential to making a relationship last. Love means being vulnerable, and a healthy couple helps each other become the best version of themselves. Stable relationships are made from people who are consciously maintaining their bonds. Even the best relationships can get even better. Hard times can undermine a relationship that is shallow, so take the time to explore your partner, and your relationship will grow and evolve.
One way to maintain a healthy relationship is to discuss topics that get at the core of who you and you partner are as people. The meaning of life takes many forms, and while the basic idea can be simple, in practice it can get quite complicated. Couples who discover what is lifes purpose together will communicate better and have fewer misunderstandings.
Another way to maintain your relationship is with healthy eating habits. Eating together can have a powerful bonding effect and make you want to spend more time together, easing the difficulties of quarantine.
One of the most important parts of any relationship is honesty. Intimate partners are a source of healing and learning, but you have to be brave enough to share your weaknesses and shortcomings. The best relationships share everything that is meaningful, and both partners come out better for it.
Coronavirus has created additional strain for relationships, and downtime is more important than ever. The kind of entertainment you pick is important, too. When times are tough, comedies and light-hearted dramas give me the best kind of boost. When I watch a show that is scary or depressing, I find that it affects me more than it used to. That’s why, right now, I am avoiding entertainment with negative themes. I still watch them occasionally, but I’ve cut back to protect my mental health. Because everyone is different, you need to be aware of how your entertainment affects you and adjust accordingly.
Last of all, make sure you schedule alone time. Even if you are in the same room, you can plug in headphones and zone out for a while and reconnect with yourself. To maintain a healthy relationship, you must start with a healthy self, so be sure to practice self-care.
Under normal conditions, people leave home to go to work. Even people who usually work from home will typically have an area like an office set apart for work only. But because of the pandemic, many married couples have found themselves unexpectedly sharing a workspace.
If you have had to switch to working from home, you are less likely to already have a home office set up. I have a friend who has children and no extra space for an office, so right now he is working at the kitchen table, with the rest of his family milling around in a distracting cloud of chaos. He is making it work, but it is difficult for him.
If you’re not planning ahead, you’re planning to fail. I use the wellness wheel during planning sessions to help me ensure I maintain a healthy relationship between work life and home life. During critical times, it is more important than ever to have a healthy work life balance. It is also harder because of the current restrictions, anxiety, and unknowns. A busy mom is under even more stress when there’s less space available. Having children around makes consideration and personal awareness even more important. You should plan your day out in advance with plenty of time for breaks and alone time. Unexpected problems may crop up, so make your plans as flexible as possible.
When you work and live in the same space, take every opportunity to spend time out of doors. Be sure to use a mask (properly) and maintain a safe distance from other people to keep yourself and others healthy. Find a nature area and go for a hike or have a picnic.
If you aren’t getting enough alone time, you can go by yourself to a local park to recharge. If you have wild natural areas like mountains or forests nearby, even better. Go outside alone or with your partner, but make sure you both get a healthy amount of “me time.”
How much time do you need? That depends on your lived experiences. Try an experiment and spend a little more or a little less time alone and see how you feel the next day. Once you get a feel for your own personal needs, you can adjust your schedule and lifestyle accordingly.
If you do not have easy access to nature, you can still find someplace outside where you can walk in relative solitude. Even in a metropolis like New York City, there are large parks and safe parts of town where you can responsibly go outside and get some sun and fresh air. Creating physical distance from the people you love can help you reset your emotions and refresh your perspective. I love riding bicycles, and even when I’m riding in a group it’s easy to find a sense of tranquility.
Careful planning, communication, and a focus on maturity can help you discover how to maintain a healthy relationship. How often do you intentionally work on your intimate relationships? Take some time today and try one of my tips, and see if it helps you build a stronger relationship.