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Lifestyle

Making a relationship last in lockdown

By FLcs 18 Feb 2021

Recently a couple with whom I am good friends, broke up after being in a 5-year relationship. Having just passed Valentine’s day I thought it would be good to look at a few ideas for how you can keep your relationship healthy in the everyday, away from the big events like Valentines, birthdays and anniversaries.

If you’ve been in, or are in a long-term relationship you will no doubt know that things change over time. The initial excitement and passion that you have when you begin a relationship or when you take the next steps and get engaged, move in together or get married all only last so long. Over time this will fade and you will be in the every day. Your relationship will go through up’s and downs and will go through the mundane and boring with each-other. It’s important to make sure your relationship is still growing and not becoming stagnant, here are a few ideas of things you can try to have a deeper connection with your partner and to move forwards in your life with each other.

  • Try to do a new thing every week.
    A really simple way to keep your relationship alive and well is to try new things together, these don’t have to be big and expensive you could try a new board game, a new recipe, a new date night idea, change it up a little! Try and do this regularly, maybe once a week is too much for you but once a month might be just right.
  • You could try to impress your partner by getting all made up.
    Sweat pants and PJ bottoms have become the norm for working from home. Why not shake things up a bit and surprise your partner by scrubbing up into your best suit/dress and see the reaction you get!
  • You can leave small messages on post-it notes around the house, put them in places that you can guarantee they will go to throughout the day like their sock draw or the biscuit tin!
post-it note
  • Make plans together.
    Travelling can be a wonderful experience with your partner. Seeing new places together, trying new foods, seeing new cultures is amazing and can create very precious memories. Right now it’s impossible to travel but why not dream big and make plans together. After lockdown is over you never know, you might actually be able to make good on one of those plans and create your own special memories. Why not google that tropical island getaway you’ve always dreamed of, or look at renting a car and driving across the USA. This can be a really fun activity to do, why not start a Pinterest board together for that dream getaway.
  • Having time apart can be great for your relationship.
    This doesn’t mean going out of your way to avoid each other but it might mean that you allow yourselves a night off each week where you can both do your own hobbies and interests that don’t involve the other person. You might want to meet up with other friends to do these activities. Having some space can be helpful for allowing you to maintain other important relationships in your life. Your relationship with your partner does need to be top priority but it shouldn’t be the only healthy relationship you have, you need to make sure you are still spending time with other friends as this is a healthy thing to do. They can offer insights and perspectives that perhaps you can’t see or that your partner can’t offer.
a person holding a cup of coffee
  • Spend time chatting together with no digital distractions.
    Yes, this means turn the phone off, turn off Netflix or Prime video, look at each other and have a conversation. One of the most valuable things that my wife and I have done is to make sure that we are present in the room with one on-another. This means looking at each other when we’re having a conversation and not being distracted by other things. This can be a good opportunity to not only take about your day but to go further and continue to open up to your partner.
  • Communicate meaningful things with one another.
    For those who are in a long-distance relationship or who are apart because of COVID restrictions, this might be the norm, for those of us who live with our partners this can be something that slips into the background as we go through the day-to-day. Make sure to talk to each other and ask more than how was your day or how are you doing. A great way to get comfortable doing this is to make it a game, google '20 questions' or similar and use these as a springboard to ask each other about more than the everyday. Once you are comfortable with this you can start to open up more and discuss things that are close to your heart, things that you wouldn’t share with other people.

    Personally, I am quite fearful of rejection and so it takes me a while to open up to other people in conversation and so I have to start with a small thing and work towards talking about the thing that’s really on my mind. In order to do this, you will need to create a safe space for the two of you to talk about the things that are in your mind. If you’re in a shared house this might mean banning your housemates from the living room for an evening or going to your bedroom to do this. Setting some boundaries and guidelines is also important, let the other person know that it’s safe, it might be that you need to share first before your partner feels relaxed enough to share themselves.
love heart

Love is evidenced in the everyday small things that you can do for your partner. Whether it’s making them a coffee in the morning, cooking dinner, doing the dishes, taking care of finances or simply putting your shoes away neatly rather than leaving them strewn across the living room floor. Consider how you can best serve your partner in small everyday things. For those who are living apart or in long term relationships this will look different, it might be a message first thing in the morning and last thing at night. It might be a surprise call on a lunch hour or a small gift. Do whatever you can do to serve your partner and show them, love, in ways that matter to them.

A great way to keeping your relationship healthy is to spend the time learning what your partners love languages are. A persons love language is the way in which they feel most loved by their partner. In his book “The 5 Love Languages” Dr Gary Chapman outlines how a person will have a primary love language, a primary way that they feel the love from their partner. There are five categories which are...

  • acts of service
  • affirming words
  • physical touch
  • gifts
  • quality time

For example, my primary love language is serving and gifts. That doesn’t mean that I don’t feel loved when my wife says affirming words to me or when we have quality time together. But it means that I will feel more loved if she gave me a gift or did an act of service such as cooking a meal or making the bed. Your love language can change over time so checking in with your partner to make sure you are still meeting their needs and “filling their love tank” is a good way to keep your relationship healthy.

Some things that can keep a relationship healthy and alive have little to do with romance. For example, sharing online calendars with each other. Basic scheduling can go a long way to strengthening your relationship. To some, this will sound ridiculous but to others, this will be the answer to your prayers! My wife and I have had shared calendars since we were dating. It has helped us massively to be able to navigate our weeks together and to be able to plan time in time for each other, even in really busy seasons. What this has also enabled us to do is plan date nights every week. This night has changed in different seasons for us but it’s been there and we’ve tried our best to stick to it. This routine was really helpful when we were both working and studying as we knew we had one evening a week that we would not do any work or other activities on and would make sure to protect that time for one another. When you have date nights make sure to switch off your phones! Try to be present and in the room with each other, even if you are watching a movie, do it without distraction and with intention.

For those of you who live together or are doing lockdown together try taking a break together. Since the first lockdown, my wife and I have begun having lunch at the same time of day as each-other and we have a mini-break together in the middle of the day. It’s not particularly romantic but we have our own little routine that we enjoy and it helps us to relax and then be more productive later in the day. We will regularly work until 2pm at which point we will go for lunch, we often watch an episode or two of friends over lunch and then have a cup of tea together before getting back to work in the afternoon. It’s a small thing but it really helps!

I hope these ideas are helpful and maybe inspire you to try some new things to grow your relationship and make it slightly healthier and happier! Don’t try to do all of these at once but spread them out over time and I’m sure you will notice a difference and have a lot of fun on the way! 

text

For those of you who live together or are doing lockdown together try taking a break together. Since the first lockdown, my wife and I have begun having lunch at the same time of day as each-other and we have a mini-break together in the middle of the day. It’s not particularly romantic but we have our own little routine that we enjoy and it helps us to relax and then be more productive later in the day. We will regularly work until 2pm at which point we will go for lunch, we often watch an episode or two of friends over lunch and then have a cup of tea together before getting back to work in the afternoon. It’s a small thing but it really helps!

I hope these ideas are helpful and maybe inspire you to try some new things to grow your relationship and make it slightly healthier and happier! Don’t try to do all of these at once but spread them out over time and I’m sure you will notice a difference and have a lot of fun on the way! 

Written by James N- 16th February 2021

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