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9 Tips to Help You to Not Break up with Your Partner During Lock-Down

Women's Health UK logo Women's Health UK 4 days ago Amy Lawrenson
a woman sitting in a chair talking on the phone: Coronavirus means we're all now living in semi-lockdown, social distancing and isolating with loved ones. This is how to help your relationship survive it. © PredragImages - Getty Images Coronavirus means we're all now living in semi-lockdown, social distancing and isolating with loved ones. This is how to help your relationship survive it.

Hands up if the novel coronavirus pandemic has turned your lives upside down in recent weeks? If you're not a key worker, then it's likely your everyday schedule will have gone from rush, rush, rush to a much simpler – and dare we say it – boring existence.

We're all now self-isolating and, besides popping to the shops for essentials or going out for exercise on our own, your days are now mostly consisting of being within your own four walls. If you live with a significant other, that means you're probably spending far more time with them than, well, ever. Factor in sharing a small space? Well, then things can quickly become strained – even if you are totally each other's type on paper.

To get dosed up on the practical steps you can take to keep your romance in the healthy zone as the crisis rages on, WH called on three relationship experts to share their advice for getting through this period of self-isolation and social-distancing with your relationship intact.

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1/ Make a Schedule

'Every situation and challenge is different but at this point in time, couples might experience increased emotional stress, fear, and anxiety,' says Dominique Antiglio, author of the best-selling The Life-Changing Power of Sophrology.

'Routine is key to making your relationship work during this time. Sit down and create a weekly diary to capture the things that need to be done, and who will be responsible for them. It’s important to do this together so you can split the load as necessary – you might notice that one person will take on more household responsibilities if the other is having to work for a set number of hours, for example.

'Your schedule will cover things like who will look after the children (if any)? Who will take the dog out for a walk? Who will do the shopping? How will the household chores be split? And how is work/personal time allocated?”

Mind coach and relationship expert Anna Williamson suggests that 'perhaps one of you works in the morning and the other in the afternoon and you share chores and responsibilities in the other times?'

2/ Create Time for Self-Care

'Set aside time in that diary for self-care, alone, so you can relax and rebalance,' advises Antiglio. 'You may not realise it, but stress and irritation can build up very easily if you are in a confined space for long periods of time. Self-care would take the form of a workout at home, a long warm bath, or a Sophrology dynamic meditation session, which I practice every day to help manage my stress levels.'

3/ Spend (Nice) Time Together

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Okay, this sounds strange since that’s exactly what you’re doing but Antiglio rightly says, 'you may be self-isolating together, but you may be spending a huge amount of that time at your laptop working, so find time to spend together as a couple too.' Try cooking a meal (with whatever supplies you have...); taking your one exercise of the day outside together or having a video call with your mates.

4/ Have Sex

'Relationships aren't all about closeness. And, actually, a bit of space and distance is good for relationship health,' says LELO’s sex and relationship expert, Kate Moyle. 'The irony is that too much closeness can lessen feelings of desire or wanting, which is obviously going to be challenging for so many couples in self-isolation. It's important to set aside time for intimacy, otherwise your relationship can develop into quite a platonic one. 

'Being cooped up in the same space with someone restricts your independence which means that you can start to focus on the negatives like the things that irritate you about each other as you can't escape them. It's good to remember to have fun together and enjoy each other. Sex can also be a great stress buster and couple-connector.'

5/ Set Work and Home Boundaries

'Use the time that you would normally be doing your morning commute to agree to spend an extra half an hour in bed before you start your day,' suggests Moyle. 'If that doesn't work then agree to have an evening where you switch off your tech, stop working, and make clear boundaries between working from home, and being at home. The difficulty many people will have is a blurring of work and home boundaries and it's important to switch off to turn on.'

6/ Go Solo

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'Solo time is super important,' says Williamson. 'Try to agree boundaries about who does what, and when. Perhaps you can spend some time in different rooms for a few hours a day to ensure you're not too cooped up together with tension brewing. Claim a little 'you' space, your sacred place to retreat to uninterrupted when needed.'

Moyle agrees and notes that you shouldn’t 'take it as a personal insult if the other person needs a bit of space – just recognise that it's an unusual situation and that we all need a little distance sometimes.'

7/ Communicate

'Talking and communication is imperative to sustain a happy and supportive relationship,' says Williamson.

You or your S.O. not good at communicating? 'Just acknowledge this without judgement,' says Antiglio. 'Ask for what is needed and explain why it is important to you – you don’t need to go into detail, you can keep it logical and short so as not to overwhelm each other. The most important thing here is having clear non-violent communication – so communicate with empathy, respect and sensitivity, and listen without interruption, avoid accusatory language.'

It's also vital to be realistic with your expectations, and don’t expect that your partner will be able to fix everything. 'During times of high stress and change, it’s important to note that you and your partner may act differently, so take this into account when communicating and setting rules,' Antiglio adds. 'Be prepared to fail at communicating, and be prepared to try again. Apologise for things when they go wrong—it will be key to maintaining a positive and healthy relationship.'

If you really struggle talking about your feelings, Williamson suggests 'writing them down in a letter and read each other’s to work out how best you can work together in these challenging times. Try to work out each other's 'love language' - how they best communicate and feel valued to ensure you're supporting your partners needs and them, in turn, yours.'

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8/ Do Something Cute For Each Other

All the experts agreed that now is the time to try and do nice things for each other. 'Run your partner a bath or give each other a massage, or just sit and talk,' says Moyle. 'And remember to have some time together screen and tech-free, it can be hard to put devices down when we are working from home.”'

9/ Accept That Things Won’t Be Perfect

'It’s really difficult for most people to live in confined spaces for long periods of time, so remember that acting perfectly in times of crisis, tension or disappointment is not going to be possible,' says Antiglio.

'But remember that you do have a responsibility to each other, so take responsibility when things aren’t perfect or go wrong.'

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