Getting on with your partner during lockdown
In our sessions, we often hear from people who are worried about the mental health of their partners. And if you are both struggling with your mental health it can be hard to have the time or energy to be supportive to each other. If you are in the middle of your working day and your partner needs support, this can lead to overwhelming feelings very quickly as you try to juggle with a deadline and give your partner the attention they need.
Many relationships have felt tested during the last two years. New relationships have missed out on some of the more fun aspects of dating such as going out for dinner, drinks, or the cinema, and instead suddenly finding themselves living together, stuck inside during the long dark months. It’s completely normal to expect some rifts and annoyances. For more established couples, the everyday routine may feel mind-numbing. After all, you might feel like you are having a different version of the same conversation every single day.
Solutions for getting out of the lockdown rut vary and one size doesn’t fit all, but here are some ideas that have worked for us here at Digital Bricks.
Maintaining outside friendships – something that works for myself and my partner has been organising pub nights online with a handful of close friends. Initially, this felt artificial, but a few weeks in and it’s a welcome full stop to the weekend for all of us. One of our friends gets a take-out from their local pub, whilst another drinks herbal tea. We all look forward to seeing each other and it definitely helps our mental health by bringing new ideas and conversation into all of our lives.
Think about some ideas for reconnecting that can also keep you healthy and moving, so whether that is scheduling a walk each day at lunchtime or doing some fitness at home together – having an exercise buddy who lives with you can help flagging motivation. There are loads of fitness videos online now for free and many of them take place in relaxing environments that can feel like a virtual health retreat.
Make space to spend time alone. Just because you live together doesn’t mean you have to be glued together. Arrange some evenings where you can be doing your own things. Your partner can do the stuff they like and you can practice some self-care. While the old cliche of having a candlelit bath is a tired one, it’s good to get a bit of space to get on with some cosmetic self-care, whether that’s dying hair or shaving a beard that has a family of mice settled into it, everyone can do with a bit of pre-arranged privacy!
Quality time together mustn’t be underestimated, even more so now. The reality is that we can and do take each other for granted, it’s easy to do when we are together constantly. At least once a week arrange a “date”. The weather is getting better now so that date could be an evening walk or spending some time in the garden if you have one. Dress for it, pull out some of the clothes that are hiding away in the cupboard – put on some nice scents, and make a bit of an effort. Honestly, it’s so tempting to just wear loungewear that we forget that we have nice things. Have a think back to the early dates you would go on and try to recreate them in your own environment. Sure the waiter is now your cat and the romantic music is streaming through your Alexa, but it’s amazing what a creative mindset can do when it comes to making a familiar space look special and different. Candles, scents, a special recipe… think of some ways you can, just for an evening, pretend you are at your favorite restaurant.
Developing a new hobby together is a good idea. There might be some things you are both into, like watching history shows or gardening. Find a couple of overlapping interests and think about how you can turn them into something you both can get into. Sometimes a little DIY project is a good way to work together. Have a think about things that you have always wanted to do but not had the time for, like stargazing or beer making! I recently bought a cheap old telescope and we go and look at the stars from a park near where we live, getting into astronomy is new and fun and something I have never done before but we can do it together.
Remembering that you both need support outside of the relationship. To take care of your own mental health means not relying on your partner to be your only support and therapist. Talk to your GP about getting counseling, find an online support group, reconnect with your own friends, and encourage your partner to do the same if they are struggling with their mental health.
Check if there is any service you can do together within your community like befriending older people and visiting them once it is safe to do so, joining or setting up local Facebook and community activity groups. Sometimes it’s about getting looking outwards from the relationship rather than examining it too closely and then picking holes. Getting involved with your community can bring a sense of strength and balance to the relationship.
Support resources for couples