Managing Relationship Stress for Couples
Spending more time together at home can be stressful, especially during a pandemic. It can make it hard to maintain a healthy relationship. Here are some ideas on how to cope.
- Be open about your feelings.
Try not to bottle up your feelings. Let your partner know if you're scared, sad, or frustrated. Help them understand what you need. Maybe it's a hug or help around the house.
- Be ready for disagreements.
It's natural to be easily irritated right now. During times of greater stress, couples can be more likely to argue. When that happens, listen to what your partner is saying. Try to understand their concerns and feelings. When it's your turn to talk, take a moment before you speak. If you feel yourself getting angry or upset, give yourself more time and take a few deep breaths before you react.
- Give each other space.
When you or your partner needs some time alone, you can find ways to do that even if you can't leave the house. Use headphones to listen to music, a podcast, or a book. Or find a quiet spot away from others to read a book or do a puzzle.
- Try new things together.
Cook a new meal. Or start a book club with your partner. Read the same book, and then make plans to discuss it together.
- Be patient.
People feel stress in different ways. What worries you might not worry your partner. Remember that your partner is probably doing their best right now.
- Practice gratitude.
Think about the reasons you love your partner. Remember and be grateful for the things your partner does for you. Tell your partner that you love and appreciate them. You can show your love by leaving a handmade note where they can find it (like on the kitchen counter, for example).
- Get help if you need it.
It's okay to ask for help if things don't get better. Many counselors offer virtual sessions. You can speak to a counselor with your partner. But if your partner doesn't want to seek out therapy, remember that it's okay to see a counselor on your own.
If you don't feel safe in your relationship, it's important to get help. Everyone gets angry from time to time. But anger that leads to threats, name-calling, pushing, or slapping is not normal or healthy. It's a form of abuse. If any of these things are happening to you, ask for help. Talk to a trusted friend or a counselor. Or contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233), or text LOVEIS to 22522. They can guide you to groups in your area that can help.
Current as of: February 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Lesley Ryan MD - Family Medicine