Kevin Smith, MS, LMFT

Kevin Smith, MS, LMFT

Kevin is a former therapist with Covenant Family Solutions. He specializes in helping people struggling with relationship issues, mental health and related substance abuse, anxiety, depression, foster care, LGBTQ identity, and loneliness.

Today, you and many others, are likely telecommuting to work and seeing you family more in one week than perhaps you had in the previous year. If you are in a committed romantic relationship, then this time of self-quarantining has some important considerations.

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Please note, the information in this post is not a replacement for personal medical advice.

It comes as no surprise between social distancing and feelings of anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are having to reshape our lives. At first, we began with limitations about large gatherings. Next eating at restaurants and bars was prohibited. Shortly thereafter going to work became a limited activity.

Today, you and many others, are likely telecommuting to work. You are more than likely seeing your family more in one week than perhaps you had in the previous year. If you are in a committed romantic relationship, then this time of self-quarantining has some important considerations.

Now, don’t get me wrong, spending extra time with a loved one can be a benefit in our current situation. But, as the famous philosopher Aristotle once said, “everything in moderation”. This means that the blessing of extra time at home may come with struggles with your significant other.

Overall, romantic relationships can be extremely fulfilling in that they give us companionship and support. They reduce risk factors of mental health (i.e., loneliness, isolation). And can offer a chance to share our day to day lives with someone who understands us. However, a romantic relationship can also mean that someone who understands you the best may unintentionally, and sometimes intentionally, frustrate you the worst.

All of these things amount to knowing how to care for and connect with your partner. While not being so frustrated that you run screaming out of the house. Below are a few ideas to consider when dealing with your partner during this unique period in our society that has forced such a high level of interaction.

Take care of yourself

It’s important to know how to clean our own mental and physical homes before we try to “clean up” after other people. This process goes the same for being in a relationship. If you are able to care for yourself and practice healthy living, you will often find that supporting someone else is less taxing, even enjoyable. Ways to practice healthy living are; healthy/intuitive eating, exercising and/or getting outside once a day, sleeping enough, and limiting alcohol and drug usage.

This can even mean taking individual time for yourself and pushing back. You may not be able to have that expectation of being a couple attached at the hip or in a 24/7 snuggle marathon. Whatever self-care means to you, try some of it out. So, take a good first step for your partner by taking a good step for yourself.

Understand that emotions will come and go

That connection in a relationship can mean that your partner can help you feel better. This is a true benefit to coupling in the 21st century. However, the chances of you and your partner having the exact same methods for managing, sharing, and defining emotions are essentially zero.

This means that your coping skills for emotional moments will be different than their coping skills. Learn to respect the fact that they do not need to be the same. You did not partner with this person hoping to have a clone. You partnered with them because of a thousand other, wonderful and loving reasons.

If you feel that moments of coping are too different or grating, practice the age-old adage of, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Those good emotional moments will be amazing for you and your partner. Negative ones will simply pass and be forgotten about in time. When your partner feels a certain way, be willing to accept that it may be different than yours — and that is ok. Support yourself in knowing that the negative moments will pass.

Find one way, a day to make your partner feel seen, heard, or understood

Despite having the commitment to caring about another person, we can easily slide past the simple things in a relationship. The beginning stages of a relationship seems to involve every experience of being noticed by your partner. Noticing them through small shows of affection, gifts, quality time, acts of service, and positive words or affirmations.

Considering the increased time together, there is an abundance of opportunities to show your partner that you still think about them. You understand them in a way that separates you from the rest of the world. The benefits to your relationship, if this is done out of love, will positively impact your relationship for years to come. Look for your partner, and most likely, your partner will start to look for you.

If you and your partner are struggling in your relationship during the quarantine, please reach out to us for help. We would love to partner with you to strengthen your family through the pursuit of wellness.

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