Constantly fighting with your partner while quarantined? Here are 4 expert-approved tips that will nip arguing in the bud
Cramped quarters. Anxiety, stress, and quick tempers. While this is our new normal now in the time of coronavirus (COVID-19), these are also ingredients for a disaster in the love department. If you find yourself quarantined with your significant other, the forced togetherness might be testing your relationship like never before and causing a lot of friction—and not the good kind, as in between the sheets. Because, let’s face it: When you’re living and breathing and working within inches of each other 24/7, one of the last things you want to do is have sex.
“When you’re cooped up in your living room with your significant other for weeks on end, tempers are going to fly and they are going to get on your nerves,” Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking, tells HelloGiggles. “This is the person you are madly in love with, so let’s hope you like them, too, because that is what is going to make this entire quarantine that much more fun.”
If you’re fighting with your partner during quarantine, here are tips from the experts on how you can keep the spark alive while maintaining your sanity.
Establish boundaries and ground rules
Even the most compatible couples need to create boundaries, no matter how small or large their living quarters might be. Trombetti says this is important to establish things like workspaces and work times. “If your significant other sets up working in the middle of your Tiger King binge, there are going to be problems,” she says. “Figure out your respective places and times for those communal spaces first in order to avoid conflict.”
This also goes for carving out much-needed alone time. Without the option of our go-to activities like happy hours and gym time, hanging out solo is difficult to attain now.
“Communicate what your needs are for space, and notice I used the word ‘communicate,’” says Trombetti. “This is the word of the month for couples. You will be doing a lot of this.”
Conflict is inevitable in relationships but could happen more frequently during such a stress-inducing time. “Conflict can be unhealthy or healthy; the flow and outcome depend on how the partners approach the issues,” Dr. Carla Marie Manly, a clinical psychologist, tells HelloGiggles. “It can be difficult to stay at home with one’s spouse or significant other even under the best of circumstances. Many people are accustomed to having varied days that include multiple exchanges with coworkers, interesting work dynamics, and regular interactions during breaks and commutes. We often take all of this variety for granted until we are isolated and, as in the case of the current pandemic, largely kept in confinement.”
No wonder it’s easy to become irritable and cagey with our partners. Because we often look to our S.O.s for comfort and support during day-to-day challenges, especially severe challenges like the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Manly says it is especially important to support one’s partner emotionally.
Her advice for when conflicts arise? First, take a break to reset, whether it means opening the window to get a breath of fresh air, listening to music, taking a quick shower, or taking a walk in the park. Maybe all you need is a quick change of scenery. However, if disagreements arise, “give each other plenty of emotional and physical space,” says Dr. Manly. “Listen, communicate, and strive not to take a ‘fix it’ attitude. Empathy and compassion are key.”
“As I told my partner just the other day, everyone is stressed right now. We can’t control what’s going on in the great world, but we can control one thing: our attitude. With all the stress running around, it’s important that we consistently keep an attitude of loving kindness within our marriage and our relationships as a whole.”
Initiate non-sexual contact
“One of the major perks of being in a long-term relationship is that you don’t have to be ‘on’ all the time. You can let your guard down, have bad days, go through a hard time personally, and experience the ups and downs, traumas and tragedies that is life without needing to worry that your partner will run away or your relationship will collapse,” Dr. Jill McDevitt, resident sexologist for CalExotics, tells HelloGiggles.
At the same time, romantic partners can be an incredible comfort for the stress and distress many people are feeling during this time. So leaning on your partner for support—as well as continuing to connect regularly with them intimately—is important. “There are many simple gestures that aren’t too time-consuming and don’t take too much energy that can maintain that spark,” she says. Something easy? Dr. McDevitt recommends simply saying, “I’m here for you” or “I’m glad we’re in this together and can support each other.”
She also recommends initiating non-sexual touch like hand-holding, a squeeze on the shoulder, or a pat on the butt. “My husband and I like to go for walks, and we haven’t been able to in a month. Yesterday I took his hand while he was sitting at the dining room table and we held hands and ‘went for a walk’ around my house. It took two seconds and it was kind of silly, but he was absolutely delighted and it made us both smile. Little things like this can go a long way,” she says.
Get creative with at-home date nights
Of course, being shacked up together means getting creative inside and outside of the bedroom, whether it’s puzzling, adult coloring books, or taking online courses. “One of my faves: building a living room fort with blankets and couch cushions and then climbing in to watch a movie, snuggle, or have sexy time. There are countless ways to spend quality time together inside,” says Dr. McDevitt. “And quality time is really the important piece.”
And don’t discount sex. “It’s a great stress reliever, and it can have a funny way of mending conflict and reminding you why the two of you had the spark to begin with,” Dr. McDevitt says. She also recommends surprising your partner with a newly purchased sex toy (from online stores, of course).
While this time might be clingy and stressful for you and your S.O., creating and maintaining a connection with your loved one is the surest way you can make the most of this uncertain time together.