We tend to think about the pressures of being locked down together for a long period of time and how this may be impacting on our relationship with those we live with. But for many couples, it’s being locked down apart which is adding relationship pressure.
Our Relationships are essential foundations to our health & wellbeing. Through our experience of supporting people and their relationships, we’ve come to understand that relationships not only give our lives meaning, they are of vital importance to our wellbeing.
But Relationships are under pressure at the moment. A turbulent year and a potentially difficult Christmas may have added financial and other pressures which are beginning to show up in our relationships. Living apart during lockdown may exacerbate some of these pressures with our partners.
You may be living apart for work or study; you may have temporarily moved home to care for somebody or perhaps you’re a new couple or simply didn’t live together prior to the pandemic. Whatever the reason, being physically disconnected from your partner for an extensive period of time has obvious implications for your relationship.
On the plus side, this could be a good test for your relationship. You’ll find out some important things about your partner, like how they are in a crisis; whether they are supportive and perhaps what some of their biggest fears and hopes are.
Relate NI’s relationship counselling can be a good tool to carry out some relationship maintenance when in lockdown apart, utilising our telephone or digital services. Find out more at our Adult Relationship Counselling page or call 028 9032 3454.
Our expert counsellors have also pulled together the tips below to help you and your partner to support each other while apart.
Communicate to Connect
It is important to remember that we are not socially distancing, we are physically distancing, but we must stay socially and relationally connected. By now, you may be tired of zoom quizzes, but there are lots of other ways you can utilise technology to connect with your partner.
Reading to each other is a really nice way to do something intimate and sensual without the expectation that you’re going to come up with any hilarious or fascinating insights yourself. Try short stories or funny books or blogs that will take your minds off events.
If you have a Netflix subscription, they now offer a “watchparty” function which allows you to watch a movie or TV show together at the same time, and creates a chat box for you to discuss what you are viewing. You could even arrange to have the same snacks or cook the same meal beforehand and eat it together over video chat.
No matter how you plan to keep in touch, for various reasons some people will be better at texting and communicating online than others. If you’re feeling like the traffic is all one way, try to agree a time each day that you’ll have a chat, rather than fixating about when your partner will reply.
Despite being apart and sometimes even because of it, you may get into arguments with your partner. So much of communication is body language, and so it can be really difficult to hash things out amicably without being able to see each other.
When arguments do happen, try to move away from always needing to be ‘right’ because that means the other person has to be ‘wrong.’ Conflict can be a constructive tool for partners to address issues. Explore how you can both have your needs met and how compromising can create mutually supportive solutions.
Validate Both Your Feelings
Regularly check in with each other about how you are both feeling and talk through what this means for you both emotionally and practically. How you decide to navigate this time will depend on your relationship and personal circumstances and it’s important to validate how your partner is feeling, even if you may not be feeling the same way.
Likewise, it is important to check in and take notice of your own feelings. Remember to be kind to yourself, our relationship with ourselves is the most important one we have.
Regular relationship maintenance can help you Relieve the Pressure on your relationships before it gives rise to unhelpful conflict. Relate NI’s team of skilled and professional counsellors are also available to help support people and their relationships.
Our video and telephone services allow both people in the relationship to take part in therapy together, but we also welcome individuals to come avail of support for their relationships.« Valentines 5 Languages of Love Coping with Bereavement this Mother’s Day »
Our counsellor was excellent and really helped me and my husband to resolve the niggles in our relationshipService Attended Adult Relationship Counselling for Couples
My counsellor was lovely, attentive and supportive. She helped me to understand my worth and for that, I will always be gratefulService Attended Adult Relationship Counselling for Individuals
This service is invaluable. Such lovely people to meet and help you through difficult times.Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling for Couples
The service was excellent, my counsellor was really good at getting us to open up and helping us to get to the root of our issues. We have definitely improved our communication since attending.Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling for Couples
I found the Relationship MOT an excellent method of focusing on how we work as a couple and just as importantly, where we need to work. It was professional, insightful and well worth the time. It has reminded us of how much we have to be proud of in our relationship and why it is so important to occasionally review it with experts.Service Attended Relationship MOT
I would definitely recommend using the Relationship MOT service as a bit of a check in with your partner. I thought how the counsellor was able to steer the conversation was very insightful and nuanced. The MOT reminded us about why we are great together but also the importance of communication and respect.” “Our counsellor provided an outside perspective which immediately helped us to agree that we needed to stop and think with more kindness and empathy for each other especially when stressed or pissed off. We both felt that our counsellor’s excellent and gentle facilitation was quite invigorating. So many positives!Service Attended Relationship MOT 2
Very Interesting Content. I like the concept of preparing your relationship before you have problemsService Attended Sustaining Healthy Relationships – Surestart 4
The face to face programme has made me feel connected with others experiencing similar thingsService Attended Sustaining Healthy Relationships – Surestart 3
The workshops made me more confident to balance family life after the baby's arrivalService Attended Sustaining Healthy Relationships – Surestart 2
I now have a better understanding of myself, it is good to know that it is normal to have argumentsService Attended Sustaining Healthy Relationships – Surestart 1
I felt the weekly questionnaire, couples with the counsellor's understanding of my needs help contribute to my own understanding of my mental health and needs throughout.Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling for Individuals
I loved every session. Our counsellor listened to what we had to say and gave us helpful wee homework - would recommend this service to everybodyService Attended Adult Relationship Counselling for Couples
Our counsellor was a fantastic support - we now feel strong enough to continue working on our relationship togetherService Attended Adult Relationship Counselling for Couples
I had a very good counsellor that helped me through a lot and it has made me come out the other side.Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling for Individuals
Counselling took us from a bad place to a good one and I would return if neededService Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Couples
Been a lifeline to help us fall in love again - forever grateful!Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Couples
I would just like to say that when I first came for counselling I felt that I was drowning. I have completed my sessions and I now feel that I can cope a lot better with everything. Thank you for a brilliant service.Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Individuals
Thank you Relate NI for a good nights sleep.Service Attended Relate NI Kids Counselling
Really enjoyed Relate NI and I'm actually going to miss counselling. I Found it helpful to find myself again. Very fair and equal within our relationship.Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Couples
I appreciated the straightforward, helpful and informed observations about situations. It really helped me cope during Christmas which is a difficult time for usService Attended Family Counselling
The counsellor was very pleasant to meet with. They had the necessary skills to speak and listen when appropriate. I liked their humour and good personality.Service Attended Family Counselling
Relate NI has helped me move on as well as understand myself and situation more. My counsellor listened to me, facilitated me and was compassionate!Service Attended Relate NI Teen Counselling
I felt the weekly questionnaire, coupled with counsellor's understanding of my needs helped contribute to my own understanding of my mental health and needs throughoutService Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Individuals
We had four funded sessions and cannot express how grateful we are for the help, guidance and knowledge. Our counsellor was incredibly professional, and her experience and obvious passion for helping couples like us was exceptional. She helped us to understand ourselves and each other like we otherwise never would have been able to.Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Couples
I have tried counselling many times in the past. This time actually made a difference. I was able to complete online sessions as well as some face to face.Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Individuals