The Couple Challenge
5 ways to survive being quarantined with your partner, according to a couple’s therapist…
Being confined together can be difficult for any couple. Add in stress over the outbreak of an illness, and you might find it even harder.
- Amy Morin is a psychotherapist, licensed clinical social worker, mental strength coach, and international bestselling author.
- As a therapist, Morin has counseled many couples through challenging experiences in their relationships.
- With the spread of the coronavirus, there’s a growing chance that you and your partner may be required to work from home.
- This increase of close quarters may be welcoming for some couples, and stressful for others — here’s 5 ways to handle the situation.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Being confined to a small space together can be quite stressful for any couple. But add in the stress of the outbreak of a potentially life-threatening illness, and you might find even further trouble tolerating one another.
Fortunately, there are some ways to help one another get through quarantine. Here’s what you can do to ensure that your relationship survives being confined in a small room together:
Help each other deal with the emotional rollercoaster
From anger to fear, the quarantine will likely stir up a lot of emotion. And you might experience these emotions coming in waves.
You may find yourselves laughing one minute and crying just a short time later. And of course, you’re likely to be bored and frustrated in between. This is all normal when faced with such a highly stressful and unfamiliar situation as quarantine. There’s little known about what to expect, what might happen, or when you will be able to leave.
Help one another ride this emotional rollercoaster. Rather than minimize your partner’s feelings by saying, “Oh there’s nothing to be scared about,” say things like, “I know this is a scary situation.” Just knowing that you’re listening can provide a big sense of relief for your partner.
Focus on being kind and respectful
Any stressful situation can cause you to grow a bit irritable and snarky with one another. But under normal circumstances, you can walk away and take a break. Obviously, you can’t do that when you’re quarantined in the same room.
Make it a goal to treat your partner with kindness — even when you don’t feel like it. Apologize when you are unkind, and forgive your partner for being rude at times as well.
Keep in mind that even though there aren’t a lot of things you can control when you’re quarantined, one thing you can control is how you treat one another. So make it a goal to remain kind and respectful despite feeling stressed out.
Practice healthy coping skills
When you’re quarantined, you won’t have access to many of the coping skills you’ve likely grown accustomed to in managing distress — like walking around the neighborhood or going for a drive to listen to music. Consequently, you might find yourself feeling a bit helpless when it comes to managing your mood.
Fortunately, there are some simple coping strategies you can turn to even when you’re quarantined. Meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, drawing, listening to music, reading a book, or just pacing around the room might decrease your stress and help you feel better.
Work on managing your emotions so you can be the best partner you are able to under the circumstances. Talk about the skills that are working for you, and offer to assist your partner if he or she is looking for some quick ways to regulate their mood as well.
Look at it as an opportunity to grow closer
Early on in your relationship, chances are that you couldn’t get enough of one another. And being locked in a small, private room together may have been a dream come true at the time.
While you may no longer have the intense desire to be inseparable at this point in your relationship, you can still look at it as an opportunity to grow closer. Of course, you might not be feeling all that romantic as you stay locked behind a door that is meant to protect from a potentially lethal illness. But even so, you can use the time you have together to the best of your ability.
You will have plenty of time to talk, get to know one another on a deeper level, and spend quality time together. You might as well turn it into time that grows your relationship. Talk about things other than the illness you’re trying to prevent. Discuss your future goals, any lessons you’ve learned from being quarantined, and any things you might want to change in the future.
Think about the story you’ll have down the road
One of the best ways to get through a stressful situation is to imagine yourself talking about it in one year or even five years into the future. It can help you look at the present with a slightly different perspective.
Of course, right now quarantine will feel stressful — and time might even feel like it’s standing still. But sharing how you survived being quarantined together is definitely going to make a good story down the road.
Talk to your partner about how they envision themselves sharing the story too. And together you’ll build mental strength as you combat this stressful situation together.