How Can Couples Survive Self-Isolation? 5 Tips to Reconnect

How Can Couples Survive Self-Isolation? 5 Tips to Reconnect

Tensions are high. You’re on edge. Your nerves are frayed. And you’re stuck at home your significant other—all day and all night! Attorneys are expecting a rise in divorce rates due to couple self-isolating, according to media reports.

At Amen Clinics, we’ve been hearing from many couples who are struggling while sheltering in place due to the coronavirus pandemic. Here are some of the most common concerns we’re hearing and some strategies to turn this stressful time into one that strengthens your connection.

1. “We’re snapping at each other all the time.”

With the high anxiety that has come with the global pandemic, tempers are running hotter than ever. The human brain is wired for negativity and during this time, you may be noticing every single thing your loved one is doing that irritates you—leaving the toilet seat up, talking too loud on the phone, not being able to make a decision about anything. It can lead to the two of you spewing venomous words at each other.

Try to rewire your brains to notice the good things rather than just the bad things. Make it a priority to look for the positives throughout the day. Start your day by saying, “Today is going to be a great day.” Then every time your partner does something nice—or even just something that isn’t annoying—take notice. Say thank you for washing the dishes after lunch, tell her how good her hair smells after a shower, or tell him how much you appreciate him walking the dog. These little things will help train your brain to seek out the positive.

2. “I feel like we’re on top of each other all day.”

Even couples who typically get along really well can suffer from too much togetherness. Some people feel like having their significant other around all the time is crowding them. Even if you live in a small apartment, you can still find ways to get a little alone time.

For example, take turns exercising outside (weather permitting). Go for a walk in the neighborhood by yourself and suggest your partner do the same at a different time. The fresh air can stimulate your senses and give you a breather from each other. You can also indulge in some “me” time by taking a bath. And headphones or earplugs can help create artificial space even when you’re sitting right next to each other.

3. “My spouse got laid off and has nothing to do and is driving me crazy.”

When someone loses their job, it steals a bit of their identity, self-confidence, and self-worth. Your significant other may be wearing their pajamas all day, lying on the couch binge-watching TV shows, and eating chips or ice cream. Meanwhile, you feel like you’re stuck doing everything around the house and might also be trying to work from home to keep at least one income.

Suggest (don’t nag) that you tackle a few household projects together. Maybe you clean out the closets or put together that Ikea bookshelf you bought but never assembled. By presenting these projects as team endeavors you alleviate the idea that you’re criticizing them for being lazy.

4. “We’re so stressed about getting sick, we’re freaking each other out.”

Anxiety and negativity are contagious. If both of you are constantly talking about feeling depressed and stressed, you may be creating a downward spiral that causes you both to isolate from each other emotionally.

Schedule some fun time. Make an appointment with each other to do something uplifting every day. Make a silly dance video for TikTok. Play a board game. Teach your dog new tricks. Or schedule time for sex. The idea is to do something enjoyable together that generates positive feelings, triggers the release of feel-good neurohormones, and enhances bonding.

If one or both of you are unable to escape the anxiety and depression you’re feeling, it’s important to seek help. During this time, mental telehealth and video therapy is a great option.

5. “We’re realizing we’ve forgotten how to talk to each other.”

Some couples who have been married for many years and have raised children are discovering that all this togetherness is shining a glaring light on hidden problems in their relationship. In the hustle and bustle of normal everyday life, you may not have noticed that you have drifted apart or that you haven’t been connecting on a meaningful level.

If you’re finding yourself feeling alone even though the two of you are together, it’s time to open up the lines of communication. Before turning on the TV or diving into your social media feed, make it a point to talk to each other. Ask your significant other how they’re feeling or what their biggest concerns are. It can jumpstart the conversation and help you rediscover what you love about each other. If you need help reconnecting, couples therapy can help.

If you’re struggling with anxiety, panic attacks, depression, or other mental health issues, you aren’t alone—45% of Americans say the coronavirus pandemic has impacted their mental health. Just because you’re sheltering at home doesn’t mean you have to wait for the pandemic to be over before seeking help. In fact, during these uncertain times, your mental well-being is more important than ever and waiting to get treatment is likely to make your symptoms worsen over time. 

At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples, as well as in-clinic brain scanning to help our patients. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834. If all our specialists are busy helping others, you can also schedule a time to talk


  1. Should be obvious why relationships are fracturing during forced government isolation…Evaluate what brings a man and woman together…All the other relationships are more than likely doomed from the beginning…One only needs to evaluate the current divorce rate in the U.S., approximately 40 to 50 percent…This is for traditional marriage…The conglomeration of hook-up relationships between ‘odd’ couple relationships, more than likely, have little spiritual foundational values to remain together…Of course, we will need an army of psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, life-coaches, divorce attorneys, etc., etc., etc….to tell poor decision makers how to get out of a poor decision…Keep in mind, we ushered in “no fault” insurance…Keep in mind, someone is always at fault and others suffer…

    My immigrant grandparents lived through immigration, the depression, discrimination, little money and remained life partners. Nurtured five children, all who developed into solid citizens…worked for a living and contributed to society…

    Thank you again for permitting me to voice an opinion…even if not displayed…I must commend Dr. Amen…While promoting ‘victim” mentality…He does permit various opinions…

    Comment by Dr. Henry Sinopoli — April 22, 2020 @ 9:11 AM

  2. “Victim mentality?!” What?! Sorry but I am offended for Dr. Amen by your accusation. On the contrary, I have consistently received his information as authentically caring, generous, intelligent, progressive and empowering. It is the antithesis of “victim mentality” to empower people to heal and improve their lives through providing them with the knowledge and power to help themselves. I am gobsmacked by your horrendously inaccurate and grossly incorrect appraisal of Dr. Amen’s intention/content! Just wow!

    Comment by Brigetta — April 22, 2020 @ 9:25 AM

  3. Good afternoon

    I moved in with my 81 year old parents since the beginning of November 2019 because of a decision I made to move out of Florida ( empty nester) and move the the Netherlands, where my son, sister and parents live. The problem is that I do not have a job, a hour or a partner ( which is ok) My mother is a controle Freek, cleans all day, is quickly critical, does not leave me any breathing space when I am in the kitchen for example. Tells me what not to do, how to do it etc. I feel I do not want argue with her yet how do I solve the smothering. My dad had an annurism last summer and is not the same man anymore. He is forgetfully, is quickly frustrated and grumpy. He used to be an perfectionist doing things around the house. Now my mom argued with him about everything. It is so hard being here and do not know how I can get out of here and start my life, in my space because the house seemed to get to small.I have been an art teacher for 22 years, but I am not liscenced here, that makes it hard finding a job.

    Thank you,



    Comment by Elisabeth Driscoll — April 25, 2020 @ 12:05 AM

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