Ever since the world went on coronavirus lockdown, I’d been seeing too many news reports about failed or strained relationships as a result of social distancing or being cooped up together like a couple of hostages in a bank robbery. For example, this study by the sex toy company LELO found that a surprising number of people in relationships were firing up dating apps and joining dating websites to ease their loneliness.
I was tired of seeing the media perpetuate that doomsday porn and almost wrote an article putting hope in the spotlight, using my relationship as a model. To me, a pandemic is generally little excuse to break up, and a wilting relationship during this time could be a result of something deeper and/or unrelated to COVID-19. It’s like not wearing a life-saving mask because “it freaks you out” or because you’re afraid it’s going to give you a bacterial infection (real “excuses” I’ve heard from people recently; also, wash your damn mask).
Then a couple of studies came out that began to reframe the “doomsday” narrative. For example, 59% of respondents in this study by Monmouth University reported being “extremely satisfied” in their relationship during the pandemic, and 33% reported being “very satisfied.”
“It isn’t surprising that so many people are satisfied in their relationship,” Dr Gary Lewandowski of Monmouth University said. “Our relationships are a key source of stability, and when the world feels uncertain, having your partner there to be your rock is assuring.”
You can read the rest of the study here if you want. Now I want to answer a burning question that some of you might have:
How can I be extremely or very satisfied in my relationship right now?
If you’re like me, you’re living with your partner and spending tons of time together without the busyness of pre-COVID-19 life—without your on-site jobs, without your commutes, and without your separate lives. In some ways, some people are getting to know their long-term partners for the first time. So, whether or not you’re cohabiting, here are some musings from a certified relationship coach:
- Always check in with the “home game” (yourself). Just like we need to take care of our planet before exploring others (my not-so-humble opinion), you need to take care of yourself before taking care of your relationship. What do you want and need during this time?
- Be responsive to your partner’s wants and needs. According to this study, partner responsiveness is a good antidote to COVID-19 stress. Partner responsiveness includes “understanding your partner, caring for your partner, and validating your partner’s feelings.”
- Communicate (constructively) early and often. You equalize (clear air out of your ear) early and often when scuba diving to avoid potential ear damage, so do the same when communicating in your relationship to avoid potential strain. (Why I used a scuba diving analogy beats me, other than I’m a certified scuba diver.) Communicate constructively using “I” statements, such as “I need space to do my work today” or “I feel better when you help with the dishes.” Focus on the problem (and the solution) instead of blaming the person.
- Is your relationship more chemical or compatible? In addition to loving each other, my partner Phillip and I like each other. We get along and are well-suited as a couple, which helps make our relationship rock-solid instead of turbulent. Our compatibility helped us adjust to the big changes in our world (and yes, we still argue like we did before the pandemic, so nothing’s really changed).
- Slow down and enjoy life’s simple pleasures. (This goes with the first point.) Phillip and I are growing food like a couple of small-scale farmers. Sometimes when I need a moment, I step out to our backyard to see how our crops are doing. Maybe I’ll watch a lizard bask near our raspberry bush or a couple of aggressive hummingbirds fight in midair over space in our bottlebrush tree. It’s important to mute the noise in your head meditatively (or at least acknowledge the noise like a passing cloud and move on) so you can focus on what’s important.
As you can see, sometimes we need to return to the basics, for many principles are universal and connected if we take time to notice them.
If the time is right and you need help trading in your relationship anxiety and insecurity for peace of mind, then hit me up here and I’ll be in touch ASAP.
Interested but not ready to commit to a coaching relationship? Take this “Relationship Insecurity Quiz” to see where you stand romantically, get tailored results, and get a special surprise afterward!