How to nurture your relationship in times of lockdown

Spending more time together in the same space with your partner can lead to a change in dynamics. You might feel that you’re feeling a bit more upset, or a bit more irritated with your partner. Or you might also experience a greater need for personal space and starting to feel claustrophobic, perhaps even in the relationship. This is something that’s normal and can lead to feeling guilty about these feelings. You might start to question your relationship as a result of that. But as I said, this is a normal thing because the usual balance between your private space and shared time has suddenly been upset. It’s no longer there, it’s not in balance anymore. So what can we do to make sure that this time of spending more time together does not have a negative impact on the relationship?

The first thing that’s important is to express your emotions and your fears to each other. This isn’t about all the time talking about your anxieties. But if you don’t tell your partner that at the moment this is your fear, this is your anxiety, the emotion will still be transmitted to your partner probably in an unconscious way, and therefore not in a way in which you would probably want it to arrive.

The second important thing is to remember that it is very easy for negative emotions to be displaced onto our relationship. So if I’m feeling very anxious about something, if I’m afraid about something, there is a chance that I will channel these emotions onto my relationship with my partner and start feeling very irritable with them. So when you notice that you’re feeling upset with your partner during this time, especially during this time, it is very important to ask yourself: Is this actually related to what my partner is doing? Or is there some kind of amplification on my side of my reactions? And the same thing goes, of course, the other way around, as in: Is my partner reacting to me in a way that makes sense? Or Is there some kind of distortion in the way they are behaving towards me at the moment?

And if that happens, it’s very important to, first of all, take time out. It’s good to be able to tell each other – perhaps even find a code word, something like: ‘blue bird,’ ‘card,’ or ‘fridge,’ anything, just a word that’s not personal – to indicate to each other that at the moment I need some space. Or that at the moment I feel that you need some space, because what is actually happening between us is not about the relationship. Something else might be being brought in, something else might be being displaced onto our relationship between us. So take some time apart so that things calm down so that we can come back together.

The fourth thing is: plan to spend time together to do something nice. It’s very easy in this time to start talking and continue talking with each other about anxieties and fears, and the negative things that are happening. So it’s really important to be able to nurture the relationship, that you actually take time to do something nice together, even if it’s just watching a movie, or having a lovely meal, cooking together for example.

And finally it’s very important to also take space for yourself. There’s nothing wrong about telling your partner: “I need some time alone.” And that is not about the relationship: that is about your need. And probably your partner would need their own time as well. Because that is what ultimately will allow you to come back together and live out the togetherness in a positive way.