Couples who are living together are facing some unique challenges. Maybe one or both of you are essential workers. Maybe you’re expecting and anxious about what this situation means for your growing family. Maybe you’re already parents and feeling the strain of juggling responsibilities. Maybe you and your partner are simply living through a stressful situation and it’s starting to wear on you both. It can be easy for stress to lead to conflict with your partner, or to a sense of disconnection from them — many couples are dealing with some of these feelings in one way or another. Here are some suggestions for how to stay connected right now:
Find a rhythm to your days that works for your family
For some families this might mean a fairly strict schedule, for others it’s more freeform. But it can be helpful to the whole family to have a sense of what each day will bring. When do you need to leave the house or step away for work or meetings? Do you need to do a grocery run or help your kids with schoolwork? And who is responsible for what? Having clear expectations can help lessen uncertainty and alleviate stress.
Spend time together away from your kids
Right now, life may feel especially challenging, and that can be wearing on you individually and on your relationship. So make some time to just enjoy each other’s company. After your kids are asleep at night, watch a favorite show together, or share lunch during your baby’s nap time, or take a breather and chat over coffee during the twenty minutes that your toddler is engrossed in a Daniel Tiger episode.
Make time for intimacy
Yes, this definitely could mean making time for sex, but it might also mean prioritizing time together where you can connect intimately in other ways, like talking about your feelings or sharing fears. Find time to be alone together and be fully present with each other, without distractions — like screens, kids, or other responsibilities — in the picture. Prioritizing this type of connection can help remind you that you’re in this together.
Plan a regular date night in
Date nights are looking a little different right now, and you might have to get creative, but given the routines many of us are in, planning something a little out of the ordinary — probably after your little one is asleep — can recharge your relationship. Try jotting some ideas down and then pick one out of a jar to add some spontaneity to the mix. Once you choose something to do, set a date, maybe even a reoccurring time each week (because looking forward to it is half the fun). Watch a movie that’s different than your usual TV go-tos, do a puzzle, give each other massages, put on a favorite album and dance in your living room, paint portraits of each other, try a new recipe or drink, you might even want to dress up to make it feel extra special. No matter what you choose, break out of your usual routine and spend some fun time together.
Be honest with each other about what you need right now
Many of us have really been thrown for a loop by this situation. What we need right now, for ourselves and from our partners, might be very different than what we needed two months (or even two days) ago. Do you need alone time, different support with childcare or household to-dos, or think you need to rethink your family’s schedule? Be honest. And since your needs might change from week to week or day to day, continue to check in.
Spend some time apart
If you’re spending a lot more time with your partner than usual (and many of us are), taking a little break can help you both recharge in a different way. Find some time for yourself and do something you enjoy — take a bath and listen to a favorite album, cook a meal solo, watch a movie and paint your nails, the choice is yours. Getting some time alone — even if it’s just in another corner of your apartment — can actually help you stay close.