Pandemic Relationship Strain: 7 Tips for Couples to Go From Disconnected to Reconnected by Jocelyn & Aaron Freeman
Has the pandemic placed a strain on your relationship? Do you find that right now you are physically with your partner more than ever, yet still feeling disconnected? How could this be right? Well, connection isn’t just about physical proximity. In fact, you can be eating dinner together at the same table and not feel connected at all.
Staying connected as a couple takes attention, intention and then action – just like anything in life that you want to grow! Here are seven things you can do differently to go from feeling disconnected to re-connected with your partner right now:
- Commit to being more mentally present: It’s easy to be thinking about your work emails, the news or the show you want to watch while you’re supposed to be having quality time with your partner. In light of everything going on politically, there are even more stimuli and stressors that you likely are mentally processing instead of being fully present in the moment. So a few minutes before you intend to have quality time together, close your eyes and take a few breaths. It can also be helpful to write down any things on your mind that you want to come back to so that you aren’t trying to remember them mid-conversation. Catch yourself if your mind starts to wander and bring your attention back to enjoying the moment with the person you love.
- Decide on something challenging or scary together: Part of feeling disconnected might be that you aren’t pursuing something new or exciting together. While traveling and going to social gatherings might be limited for you right now, how can you start a challenging house project? Or is there a language you both have wanted to learn? Maybe you both have been putting off a side business you have wanted to start together. A great way to bond together is to get yourselves out of your comfort zone.
- Start a book club between you two or the entire family: While it’s relaxing to watch a good movie or show in the evening, you likely feel a bit burned out of just sitting on the couch. Who knew that quarantine would make us tired of Netflix and chill? Instead, select a book that you both want to read that is also positive or empowering. Focus on reading that book throughout the week and select one day that you have coffee/tea and discuss your latest chapters. This opens up the opportunity to learn new things about each other, or to get into an intellectual conversation about something new you both have learned.
- Create boundaries for quality time: Without boundaries, you can easily feel like you always have distractions. If you’re constantly looking at your phone when the alerts go off, your partner won’t feel like they had your undivided attention. Or worse, you’ll go an entire week on different schedules and not prioritize a meaningful conversation together. Some constructive boundaries could be: no phones out after 8 p.m., a date once per week with no technology, turning your phones off during dinner, ending work hours at the same time each night and not watching the news in the morning while you have coffee together.
- Initiate more meaningful conversations at dinner: Your conversations can feel dull if you ask the same old questions each night like, “How are you?” Instead, ask things like: “Is there any place you feel challenged or stretched lately?” “How are you feeling emotionally with everything going on in the world?” “What is your favorite part of the day?” The quality of your conversation leads to the quality of your connection.
- Break up the routine: Creating a routine in this "new normal" is definitely supportive to feeling secure, but it might not contribute to feeling excited and playful at home. Take one day this week to switch things up! If you normally would spend the morning doing chores, instead setup a water slide as a family. If you normally would watch TV before bed, light some candles and turn on music for a sexy evening together. When you mix up your routine, it gets you in a more creative mood which allows you to feel like you’re dating again!
- Get some time alone to get connected to yourself: It might sound counterintuitive, but it’s hard to connect to your partner if you aren’t connected to yourself. Taking some time alone to fill your cup, allow you to have more energy to give to your partner. Most people are reporting that they’re getting the least amount of alone time that they’ve ever gotten, which can be draining. Set up a system as a couple where you each get a couple hours of alone time each week to do whatever you want. You’ll then come back together being more mentally, emotionally and energetically available to each other.
We recommend you pick at least one of the seven suggestions to implement each week. The key takeaway is that you don’t stay connected without intention and action. Quarantine has created some limits and restrictions, but it doesn’t have to rob us of being connected and making the most out our of lives together.
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