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Home but not alone: 3 tips to keep your relationship healthy during quarantine

Home but not alone: 3 tips to keep your relationship healthy during quarantine

Home but not alone: 3 tips to keep your relationship healthy during quarantine

Home Alone is a series of American comedy films which started in 1990. This month, however, couples in the Netherlands are faced with the opposite due to the corona measures. Many households have redesigned their apartments into workplaces and classrooms.

Time on your own is not easy to come by anymore.  How do you cope with this situation? Here are three tips to help you and those you live with to remain a good team when you're home but not alone.

1. Take time to discuss things

Start the day with a family scrum. Exchange your plans for the day. If you have children, tell the kids what needs to be done that day. And listen to their ideas. How do we get through the day together? How do we divide the "dirty jobs" and the fun things? And what will the next week look like?

Existing habits may suddenly be meaningless. They still remain from the time when both partners worked outside the home. Why does one partner always do the dishes and the other bring the children to bed? Before the crisis, it made sense because perhaps one came home late. But now this habit may be obsolete.

So, work together on a new structure. Experiment with a new division of labour. It is important that you discuss every issue carefully. Here is a checklist on partner consultation.

The art of good consultation

• Consultation time is about practical matters. Sharing your feelings is also important but try to separate this from a partner or family consultation. 
• Be open to the wishes of your partner. That does not mean that the other person always gets their way. Be interested in the other person's plan. So, don't shoot right away.
• Show your sketchpad, not your conclusion. Not, "This has to be done," but, "Maybe we could do this or that."
• Do not force your idea, but make a proposal
• Make sure you come to a solution everyone can live with. Here you can use what the Dutch call: “polderen”. It means looking for consensus among the stakeholders. This verb dates from the 17th century. The Dutch political system is well-known for this.

2. Take care of each other

Now that the measures surrounding the coronavirus have all kinds of limitations, it is especially the time alone that will come under pressure. Our second tip is, therefore: support each other. Take tasks off each other’s hands and give your partner some precious free time. Sometimes you don't even have to announce this. You tacitly do a routine household chore. This is called "silent care". And it’s a great way to show you care for each other. Take on work that neither of you feels like doing, to relieve the other person. By not waiting for your partner to mention it, you show that they are dear to you. 

I am strong enough to carry this

But there is something else. By voluntarily taking on tasks, you actually say to yourself: "I am strong enough to carry this." This strengthens your belief in your own capacity. You then respond from the Best Version of Yourself. Leave no room for grumbling. Or that complaining “Little Me” who demonstratively sighs before acting. Pay attention when you need to empty the trash can or buy toilet paper. Take the kids outside and repair the balcony door. Allow the other person to feel free. And encourage your partner to enjoy that time alone. Unburden each other, if possible.

3. Don't stress 

Our third tip is: beware of stress. That's a real relationship killer. We are now dealing with the infectious coronavirus. However, stress-induced behaviour can also be highly contagious. So, don't quarrel with your partner or overreact. The children can take on this habit and soon everyone is reacting badly towards each other. 

Scratching does not help

Then, we come to something about expressing your frustrations. The current situation is very stressful. How will this corona crisis end? It messes with all your beautiful plans for the future. Remember this: swearing or otherwise loudly expressing your frustrations is like scratching a wound. It gives relief for a while but only makes the wound bigger. If you're having a hard time, share your concerns with your partner or do something to get back into balance. Offer a strong shoulder to your partner and say to each other: “We are not alone. Together we will manage”.

We hope these tips will help you to keep your relationship healthy during self-isolation. If you have any tips, share them in the comment section!

Sjaak Vane

Author

Sjaak Vane

Co-founder of Relationship Weekend - a time-out for expat couples to improve their relationship. Sjaak works as a coach and has written several books on relationship issues (sorry, only in...

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