quarantine, relationship, relationships, marriage, quarantinelife

Quarantine Life & Solving Relationship Struggles

When you are trapped together it can be easy to get stuck in obsessing about all the negatives that annoy you. Our brains love to hang onto negativity. Sometimes people miss that heady excitement of being in love which is different from actually living with love. Living with love means the work of acceptance.

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Quarantine can be very tough on relationships. Economic fears & unpaid bills can contribute to the problems. You might be trapped with kids who consume all your energy to be kind. Even anxiously watching the news can contribute to the tension. So the first step in not destroying your relationship into have self-awareness that your worries may be spilling over onto your partner; because they are the ones you can most likely get away with it.

The problem is you can probably only get away with it in the short term. Inevitably it’s going to pile up & take its toll. If you can; risk being more self aware which is really hard because it makes you wince at yourself. Self awareness can help you step up & take responsibility for spilling over. Making amends can go a long way towards repair. Repair & amends are two things we don’t think about often enough. It can be excellent relationship practice to decide they both matter going forward.

Sometimes all we want is an acknowledgement that we stepped on someone we are supposed to be loving.

When you are trapped together it can be easy to get stuck in obsessing about all the negatives that annoy you. Our brains love to hang onto negativity. Sometimes people miss that heady excitement of being in love which is different from actually living with love. Living with love means the work of acceptance. Acceptance of the annoyances because you are well aware of how annoying you are as well.

The problem in quarantine is that a pattern of unintentionally stepping on your partner may develop. Living with love means knowing a pattern of mistreating your partner is not ok. One offs or two offs are acceptable, it’s the pattern that demands you have an intervention with yourself. 

So how to begin an intervention with yourself? After the first step of self-awareness, the second step is to be able to admit you are wrong which requires self confrontation. Then the third step is to decide what to do differently. How do you know what to do differently? Stop & sort out what your triggers are…..just like alcoholics have triggers for drinking, you have triggers for your own bad behavior.

An owner of a small business may fear it going under & get more clingy which might drive their partner nuts. So figure out what your triggers are for being clingy. The 4th step would be to wear a rubber band & snap it lightly to interrupt the clinginess. To be more choiceful i.e. have I already been clingy 10 times today? If the answer is yes, then the 5th step would be to exchange the clinginess for being more creative about engaging your energy in a more positive way. 

Creativity is important in quarantine life. I used to love telling my bored teenagers that boredom was important because it pushes & shoves us into creativity. So order an instrument & learn to play with you tube, learn a new language, decide to take up gardening & dig up your yard or start a short story discussion group online. It’s important for your development as an individual to be grounded in things only you care about. Successful relationships are about two individuals coming together as a couple. You are also more interesting when you have separate pursuits.

The 6th step would be to make amends which includes listening to what was the hardest part for your partner. Then share with your partner what you’ve been trying to do to solve the problem. Ask them for feedback & whether or not they’ve noticed a difference. 

Decide to do the work of loving. This is only part of a quote by Joseph Campbell that is on the relationship page of my website: “A love affair has to do with immediate personal satisfaction. But marriage is an ordeal; it means yielding, time and again. That’s why it’s a sacrament: you give up your personal simplicity to participate in a relationship. And when you’re giving, you’re not giving to the other person: you’re giving to the relationship.”

For quarantine life to be more manageable you have to treat these more difficult times as an opportunity. It can be an opportunity to learn something new, to slow down from your normal frantic life pace or as an opportunity to feel more connected with each other. It could be an opportunity to reach out to old friends you haven’t seen or talked to enough. The family can find games to play & to laugh together while doing that. 

Flexibility is important during quarantine life. You may have to let go of old routines & create new ones. In one of my podcaster Facebook groups someone was upset she could no longer interview in person because that’s what she always did. Hello, let’s figure out being more adaptable it’s something that will benefit you the rest of your life. A pandemic provides you with the opportunity to lower your expectations. High expectations can be such a burden on a relationship. This is your chance to practice being more flexible instead of getting stuck in anger about how things are supposed to be. Roll with the punches because this world will continue to surprise us with how difficult it can be as we march into the future. (This is why I like Sci-Fi because of the possible realities that are shared.)

Figuring out ways to have separate time & space can be really helpful during quarantine life. When you are together too much, the opposite polarity of separateness can be helpful. Negotiate some time apart balanced by time together. Time alone should not be avoided; it’s a good thing to invest in because it is only alone that you can pursue your own curiosities. 

Another quarantine thought would be that when you do have a fight it’s usually about the two of you struggling with sharing power; someone is feeling left out. So think about how to share the stage fairly for both of you; ask yourself has someone hogged the show & neglected the other person’s priorities?

There is only one go around on this planet. Quarantine is a good time to re-evaluate what’s worth it & what isn’t? It’s a time to reflect on your values. What does your checkbook, credit card statements & calendar say about what you spend your time & money on? Have several discussions with your partner & ask what might we do differently when this is over? Do you share financial & time priorities?

My challenge for you today:

Ask your partner if you’ve been spilling over onto them with grumpiness & tension more than usual. Find out if they can help you identify your triggers. Decide to do the work of interrupting yourself because you care about being a better person. My definition of ❤️ LOVE is wanting to be a better person. Ask yourself, have you decided deep down to do the work of loving?

For places to visit together virtually visit this page

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About the Rhoda Mills Sommer

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