All over the world, schools are closing, people are working from home and social gatherings are being limited (or banned) in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. And this means that many couples now find themselves spending an unusually large amount of time together, often in a confined space. Another stressor? This forced togetherness is open-ended, with no clear indication of when it will be over.
These strange times could spell bad news for relationships. According to a paper published in The Journal of Family Psychology that looked at couples in the aftermath of 1989’s Hurricane Hugo, more people in the afflicted counties in South Carolina divorced the following year compared with those who lived in other counties. But on the bright side, more people also got married and had babies post-hurricane—difficult life events can have a profound effect on relationships, whether positive or negative.
We reached out (remotely, of course) to relationship expert Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking, for her take. “Social isolation is a little scary, but it can be good for a relationship,” she tells us. “It can deepen communication and bond you more as a couple...and you can have lots of sex!” When you’re stranded together physically, here are some tips for staying connected emotionally.
Spend quality time together. We know, spending time together is all that you’re doing these days. But there’s a difference between spending quality time together and just sitting side by side on the couch trying not to scream as your partner eats his lunch (has he always chewed this loudly?). And the key here is to give each other space. “Communicate your boundaries,” says Trombetti. “It can be as simple as telling your partner that you need alone time, or saying, ‘When I watch this show on TV, I’m checking out for a bit and you can watch the other TV.’” Even if your place is small, try to spend some time apart every day so you can enjoy time together later.