Being stuck at home with your other half may feel like a great opportunity to spend time together. But even the strongest relationships can founder under stress.
We spoke to a couples counselling service to ask how our relationships can survive the coronavirus outbreak. Here, Robert Hudson, psychotherapist at the Hudson Centre in London, gives his advice.
Q. How do we cope with getting on each others’ nerves?
A. Understand, support, acknowledge. If your partner is anxious, accept that’s how they feel and ask if there’s anything you can do to help. It’s best not to tell them they “shouldn’t feel that way”. Listening is very important. Being anxious is normal. If you’re self employed, for instance, you might worry about losing your job. But don’t become consumed by it..
Q. How do we keep the relationship fresh?
A. Being able to laugh together is crucial. Focus on the positives because it’s easy to get lost in a cycle of doom and gloom. Take some time out and have lunch together. Plan something to look forward to, for when the crisis ends. The other thing that’s helpful is to say “thank you”, because we often take our partners for granted. I also suggest you try something new together, and set goals, while you’re stuck at home. See it as an opportunity to be adventurous – in the bedroom, too.
Q. What if we get bored?
A. Time out is good, so ask for it. Say ‘I just need half an hour.’ Go and have a long bath. It’s important to enjoy life’s pleasures, whatever that means for you as a couple. It could just be taking a break to have a hot drink or listen to a song. It’s often those little things that count and bring us together rather than the big grand gestures.