Social distancing and lockdown during COVID-19 come with unique challenges for everybody. So many people are struggling to maintain connections with friends and family, stay on top of their work and studies, and get along with each other at home.
While many find themselves struggling with feelings of loneliness or isolation, there are also those who are facing too much time with loved ones under home lockdown.
As many around the world are rethinking relationships, here are 7 ways to maintain relationships at home under lockdown. Let’s go over some tips for getting along at home and connecting to loved ones in a healthy and loving way during these challenging times.
How Lockdowns Are Affecting Relationships At Home
Many people around the world are suddenly finding themselves stuck at home with family members, roommates, or significant others.
Many schools and offices are still waiting to reopen after a major lockdown, and everyone is feeling unsure about the state of the world, their health, and the big question of when things will go back to normal. People are suddenly separated from communities, friends, and family members, and learning to cope with different schedules and living situations.
For those who are stuck at home with loved ones, the mixture of anxiety caused by the current events and being around each other 24/7 may be bringing up underlying issues in dynamics, relationships, and less-than-ideal living conditions.
Staying calm and cooperative with each other at home can be a challenge, especially with tensions running high. Relationships may be under strain during lockdown, and it can be especially crucial to hone some relationship tools during this time.
7 Ways To Maintain Relationships At Home Under Lockdown
For those of you who are stuck at home with your loved ones, here are a few tips for staying sane and emotionally connected during this time.
1. Take The Opportunity To Hone Relationships Skills
While at home with your partner or other loved ones, utilizing relationship tools for healthy communication and cohabitation will be particularly important for navigating the typical ups and downs of relationships, as well as the added stress of tension that the pandemic and lockdown may bring to the forefront.
Instead of just getting through this time together, use this time as an opportunity to work on conflict management skills, and address any dynamic or family issues that arise during your copious amount of time together.
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2. Avoid The “Four Horsemen”
John Gottman, an American psychology researcher, proposed four negative behaviors that lead to conflict and dissolution of relationships. He calls them the “four horsemen,” and they include criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. Avoiding these reactions to conflict, as well as finding new antidotes to prevent them can make or break a romantic relationship.
- Criticism is pretty straightforward, however, it can be specifically defined as an attack on your partner’s character, as opposed to expressing a productive critique or complaint about their behavior. Statements about your partner which include words like “you always” or “you never” are usually statements of criticism about their character.
- Contempt usually comes in the form of insults, or otherwise mean comments and reactions toward your partner. This may be rolling your eyes, using sarcasm, or speaking with condescension or disrespect.
- Defensiveness is caused when one or both partners feel blamed or criticized and therefore counter with deflecting the blame on the other person, or merely lashing out with anger or frustration instead of taking responsibility.
- Stonewalling is when one partner shuts down completely because they are feeling overwhelmed by the situation or discussion. Though this may stem from a fight-or-flight instinct, it can come off as evasive and shutting out the other during conflict.
3. Balance The Negative With The Positive
According to Gottman, the magic ratio to a happy relationship is 5:1. Five positive interactions for every one negative interaction. What this means, especially now when couples and family members may feel like they are in each other’s faces the whole day, is that each member can work on having positive interactions with each other, whether through compliments, smiles, warm comments, etc.
4. Take Responsibility
Taking responsibility for your feelings and behavior can go a long way to creating a healthy relationship dynamic. This can be in the form of “I” statements instead of “you” statements, such as “I’m feeling frustrated,” instead of “you’re driving me crazy.” It can also include owning up and apologizing to mistakes or when you’ve hurt your partner during a disagreement.
5. Validate Your Partner’s Feelings
Along with taking responsibility, it is also helpful to listen and validate your partner’s feelings. Whether you just practice active listening, mirroring back your partner’s feelings, or responding with positivity or empathy, validating each other’s emotions and experiences will create a positive relationship atmosphere where each partner is able to express themselves without fear of judgment or negative reactions.
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6. Create A Routine With Your Partner
Now, more than ever, it’s important to establish a routine for yourself and with your loved ones as you share space together. Whether you’re working or studying at home together, it is important to create a schedule that works for everybody. Make clear times for working separately, spending quality time together, and having alone time to invest in your own interests and hobbies, or just to have a break away from each other.
7. Practice Healthy Habits
Both you and your loved ones at home will be better equipped to deal with stress or tension when you’re practicing healthy habits, such as getting enough sleep, practicing stress-relief techniques, getting exercise and fresh air, and balancing work and relaxation.
To Wrap Up
COVID-19 has had an impact on every part of life. For relationships at home, whether you’re living with a boyfriend or girlfriend, spouse, parents, children, or siblings, honing relationship and conflict management skills can go a long way for making your home a positive and loving environment.
We hope these 7 ways to maintain relationships at home under lockdown help you and your loved ones stay connected and calm during these tough times.
And most importantly, as we are all struggling during these difficult times, it is important to acknowledge the situation and to practice empathy and kindness toward one another.