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.