Lifestyle

How to breakup-proof your relationship for lockdown


The next month won’t be easy (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

To state the obvious: living through the coronavirus pandemic has likely had an impact on your relationship.

Getting through the first lockdown might have been tough. The general stress of life amid Covid-19 added strain, while being cooped up at home and unable to socialise with other people meant there was a lot of pressure on the relationship.

Lockdown restrictions might have made you move in together. Working from home in the same small space may have created tension. You might have argued about how seriously you’re taking the pandemic.

Basically, if your relationship survived lockdown, that’s something to be applauded. But now we’re in a second lockdown, and it’s natural to worry that it won’t be smooth sailing.

While it’s good that the pandemic might have brought to light genuine incompatibilities, we do want to avoid breakups that happen only because of the immense stress of this current moment.

So here’s how to keep your relationship in a good place.

Assess your expectations

In lockdown, your partner can become your main source of emotional support, your housemate, and your coworker all at once.

Take a moment to assess exactly what you expect of your partner and discuss this with them. Explain what you learned that you need in the first lockdown; whether that’s a weekly indoors date night or them leaving you alone when you’re working from home.

But make sure you’re reality checking all that you expect. Are you being fair? Are you asking for too much? Or on the flip side, are you trying to do everything alone?

Relationship coach John Kenny says: ‘One of the most common themes that affects a relationship in a negative way is the way we learn to expect things from each other – in terms of our expectations of relationships, as well as when we
think we know what the other person thinks and/or feels, when really we actually don’t know and don’t really express what we want or really need ourselves.

‘So, drop expectations of your partner, especially during lockdown isolation, because we can’t guess or assume what people are doing, or thinking, or feeling.’

Communication is key (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Make time for yourself

Pre-pandemic, it’s unlikely you spent all your time with your significant other. You probably went to work each day, interacted with other people, and often had days or evenings without them as they met up with others.

You still need that time apart, and it’s important that you don’t feel like there’s something ‘wrong’ with your relationship if you feel the need for some space.

Make sure you’re setting aside time where you and your partner aren’t together, even if that’s just sitting in different rooms for a bit or going out to do the weekly food shop solo.

You need time on your own to look after your own emotional needs – and to have something to talk about when you come back together.

Check in with each other emotionally

It’s easy to slip into ‘getting through the day’ mode in lockdown, just focusing on the essential needs of work, exercise, eating, and sleeping without taking the time to assess how you and your partner are doing emotionally.

Make sure you’re having regular times when you can just sit and talk about your mental state. This is a stressful, scary time when you’ll need each other’s support and a non-judgmental ear.

‘We really need to check in with each other at this time and think: “how I can help you and how can you help me”,’ says John. ‘Find out what is it that
your partner wants or needs and show care and understanding if they are struggling during this time.’

Don’t just assume that your partner is fine – actually ask how they’re doing and give them a space to open up.

‘When coping with lockdown, some people will shut off, and others will do the opposite,’ John explains. ‘Rather than assuming that you know how they’re feeling, communicate with them and find out what you can do.’

Make time for yourself (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Establish working from home rules

Clashes around working from home can be a major cause of tension, arguments, and breakups. You might drive each other mad with your different working environments – you need silence, they need constant background noise, for example. Or you might bristle at how snappy they get when you pop in to offer them a cup of tea and they’re trying to focus on a task.

Have a sit down and work out some defined rules for working from home, and be clear about what you need from your partner to make sure you can both get stuff done in a not-too-stressful way.

That might mean setting up separate desks, so one of you isn’t seething about being hunched over on the sofa, agreeing not to chat if they have a ‘do not disturb’ sign, taking your lunch break together, or just wearing some headphones.

Whatever it is, make those rules clear and stick to them.

Communicate

That’s what it all comes down to, really: communication.

This is a difficult time and you will need each other more than ever. Now is not the time to shut down, keep things to yourself, or allow tension to simmer.

Make a promise to communicate clearly, honestly, and openly about all things. That means actually asking your partner if they can do the food shop, rather than internally grumbling that you’re always the one picking up supplies. It means sharing your worries, rather than letting them come out in snipes and silence.

Talk things through and be there for each other.

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.


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