The COVID pandemic has not been kind to love. Socially distancing has challenged all types of relationships: couples in new relationships may be separated for long periods of time, people in troubled relationships are stuck together (whether or not they want to be), and many single people are challenged with the loneliness of isolation. For better or worse, no relationship is going to be the same after the pandemic.
Just like our bodies, relationships need a healthy immune system – a system built on security, connection, and integrity. Here are 3 tips to help strengthen your relationships during these trying times:
- Do a deep dive into your relationship. The pandemic has offered many people something they don’t usually have a lot of: time. With many restaurants, movie theaters, and even offices being closed, people are spending more time than ever at home.
This extra time is a great opportunity to face and evaluate your relationship. Ask yourself: how do I become a better partner? Go back in time and look at the person you were when you chose the relationship. Question if you are settling on some level or bringing only half of yourself to the relationship. Be brutally honest with yourself.
In the end, you might discover that you still love and choose your partner, but perhaps the way you act in the relationship has changed. Maybe your priorities have shifted, and you need something different from your partner now, or perhaps you may find that they need something different from you. Find ways to bring your whole self to the relationship.
- Love is a verb. Love is not just about the warm, fuzzy feeling someone gives us. It is the acts of kindness and sharing that we extend to our partner. We tend to think relationships are meant to give us something that we don’t currently have. We look to our partner to fill some lack in our life or make us feel better about ourselves. This thinking sets our relationships up for failure from the start. In order for a relationship to grow, our focus needs to be more on giving than receiving. It is nearly impossible to expect your partner to give you something that you are not giving to them.
Relationships offer us our most powerful opportunities to transform into more selfless people. Love is the desire to share with another person, and the way to grow love is to act with more love. Ask yourself: how am I giving more to my partner every day? Don’t just think about if you are getting everything that you want (which is also important), but also if you are giving as much as you can for the relationship to grow and thrive.
Love doesn’t have to be complicated. If you want more love, give more love.
- Fight with love. We can’t always get along. Being trapped in a confined space with a partner tends to accentuate all the little annoyances. They talk too loud when they’re on conference calls, they tap their foot while you are trying to type an email, they’ve let the laundry pile up.These small frustrations can lead to big fights.
No matter how silly the fight is, we usually think what we are fighting about is really important. We want to prove we are right, make the other person see our point of view, or just plain make them feel bad about what they’ve done. In reality, the way that we fight is much more important than the content of the fight. In ten years, you likely won’t remember what you were fighting about, but you’ll remember how the other person made you feel.
A lot of couples have trouble talking about real issues because they haven’t spent time developing a process for disagreeing. Even at the worst of times, it is important that we do not behave with less than human dignity towards each other. The process of how you argue informs who you become and what your relationship amounts to. Spend time with your partner developing a healthy way to communicate, especially when you disagree on something. When the process is right, you can talk about anything.
We are all experiencing an incredible amount of stress with the state of the world. Remember that nothing happens by coincidence. There is something positive that we can all take from this experience. Take the time to strengthen your relationship, but also cut it some slack. Know that the pressure you are experiencing is abnormal and does not represent what your relationship will always look like. Our challenges are heightened right now, which gives us a great opportunity to reflect on the state of things but know that nothing stays the same forever.