11 Ways To Nurture & Strengthen Your Relationship During Stay-At-Home Orders

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11 Ways To Nurture & Strengthen Your Relationship During Stay-At-Home Orders

During these unprecedented times, you're stuck in your home for an undetermined amount of time with your partner, spending more hours with them than ever before.

You might have always wished for extra time with them, but I’m guessing no one imagined it would be spent under “stay at home” orders due to a global pandemic.

So, how can you make the most of this time and benefit from it as a couple? By learning how to strengthen your relationship and become stronger than ever.

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Of course, you can watch Netflix and hunker down for the next four, eight, or 16 weeks, but this situation provides couples with a unique opportunity for growth and connection. If not now, then when?

Know that you can weather this storm as a couple and even come out stronger from it. With structure and agreements in place — and hopefully some humor and fun — you can handle self-quarantine in the best way possible.

Here are 11 ways to nurture and strengthen your relationship during quarantine.

1. Create structure.

As a couple, you should create simple structures for your day. What time will you wake up? Eat meals? Go to bed?

Couples who're starting to slip — getting up at noon, not getting dressed, staying up too late — make their uncertainty more difficult to manage.

2. Make agreements.

You need to make agreements about who cooks, who cleans, and who does what chores when. Reassess if your originally established agreements still work for both of you in your new reality.

When you are fair, just, and sensitive, you take care of each other and strengthen your relationship. Schedules may change, but the principles of secure functioning stay the same.

Another subject you may want to discuss is what topics you will and will not bring up. Agree upon those. During challenging and uncertain times, it’s not always constructive to address difficult, unresolved issues.

Under normal circumstances, your brain scans for threat in and around your environment. During a global pandemic, your threat perception increases even more. If you agree to discuss an issue, provide a safe and secure environment by taking turns speaking, listening actively to your partner, and not focusing for too long on one problem.

3. Reach out.

If you need to address differences immediately and have difficulty discussing the issue together, contact a therapist who can guide you through them.

Many therapists around the country have moved to telehealth videoconferencing, so keep in mind that therapists in your area are still available during this time.

4. Make the most of your time together.

During this challenging time when many people are working on the frontlines or losing their jobs, feeling sick, or grieving loved ones, it may be difficult to connect to your partner.

However, now may be more important than ever to build that sense of security and connection.

5. Slow down.

Oftentimes, you react so quickly to things people say that you jump to a negative conclusion or assume something negative without realizing it or attempting to clarify.

If your partner pauses for too long after you say something or has a blank or “neutral” expression on their face, you may start filling in the blank with negativity. This is your brain’s natural negativity bias.

When your partner doesn’t send a signal or respond to you in a way you expect, you start making up negative thoughts. Instead of jumping to conclusions, slow down and ask your partner to explain. Be curious. Be open to being wrong. Hear your partner out.

Slowing down can help decrease misunderstanding and help you feel closer to your partner.

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6. Put down your phones.

We’re all glued to social media and news sites. What if you took a little of that time to look lovingly at each other? Make a designated time that you and your partner will put down your phones and spend a few minutes gazing into each other’s eyes.

In the beginning of your relationship, you probably spent a lot of time gazing into each other’s eyes. A mutual gaze between you and your partner helps you learn to read and to know one another better, ultimately allowing you to build a stronger relationship.

You fall in love through the eyes.

7. Ask questions.

Not only does asking questions help you understand your partner better, it helps you grow closer and connect. If you are new partners, you can do an online search for newlywed questions and have fun asking questions in a lighter fashion.

You can make up questions that you always wondered about your partner: What is your first memory from childhood? Who was your first best friend?

8. Have breakfast together, or take a coffee break.

In the morning, state something you're grateful for. These positive thoughts can carry you through the day and help you feel more hopeful. During the day, take 15 minutes to have coffee, tea, or a drink of choice together.

Most couples never have the luxury to see each other during the day, so use this time to talk about something light.

9. Exercise.

Many couples discuss getting in shape early in the year, but then resolutions fall by the wayside.

Walk or run together. Do an online workout together. Search “partner yoga” and try stretching, relaxing, and even twisting yourselves into a pretzel together.

If you want a good laugh, search for laughter-based exercise programs, such as laughter yoga. Have some fun exploring options that work for both of you.

10. Dance together.

Use YouTube to look up how to ballroom dance and have a lot of fun laughing at yourselves in playful ways. Try a new TikTok dance, or find something that makes you move together.

As infants, you're hardwired for cuddling and touch. As adults, that loving touch can create closeness and an intimate bond in couples, so use dancing to entangle yourself in your partner's embrace.

11. Laugh.

Laughter boosts your immune system and helps relieve stress by releasing endorphins. You never want to laugh at your partner unless they're trying to be funny, but you can laugh at jokes and humorous situations.

  • Tune into your favorite comedian.
  • Tell or read each other jokes or funny stories.
  • Watch a comedy together.

This virus may keep you and your partner stuck at home, but use this time to reconnect. Making an agreement about how you want to spend this lockdown and where you want your focus to be will make all the difference when you are able to leave your home again.

Look for the positive, be grateful that you are together, and discuss what you want to do to make the most of this time.

When you look back on 2020, of course, you’ll remember all the stress and uncertainty. I hope you'll also remember how you became emotionally closer, more loving toward each other, and took this opportunity to create a more fulfilling relationship.

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Lisa Rabinowitz is a relationship therapist who specializes in couples and marital issues. For more information on how she can help you, visit her website here.

This article was originally published at The Pact Institute. Reprinted with permission from the author.