How To Strengthen Your Relationship In A Socially Distanced World
As much as we crave mutual interaction, support and validation, no relationship is immune to conflict. The unprecedented hurdles amidst the COVID-19 crisis have been testaments to that. How can you, as a unit then, reignite that spark and try to maintain long-term compatibility?
One of the best ways to tackle interpersonal issues is to create novel experiences together, even if it's just enveloping the day with a hug. "These experiences and practices need not be expensive or grand—as long as they result in productive interactions," states Dr. C Manjula Rao, clinical psychologist from Apollo Hospitals, Hyderabad.
Speaking about her often idolized marriage with Dax Shepard, actor and singer Kristen Bell has commented, how "you can’t always be in control, or right, and it’s important to us that we lead with the honesty of your ‘perfect match’ being a myth".
Here are five ways to bring love, kindness, support and fun to your relationship
1. Listening well and opening-up
Perhaps one of the easiest ways to be present for your partner is to understand the form of support they require—whether they need an ear to vent or a hand to help out. It also helps to come out of one’s own shell a little, as it makes the other person be more comfortable in their vulnerability.
2. Affirmation and intimacy
Dr. Rao defines intimacy as “the result of the closeness between people when they connect, care and feel comfortable, both physically and emotionally, with each other.” Therefore, it is extremely important to sustain a regular display of intimacy, which need not always be physical or sexual.
A connection based on intellectual, emotional and spiritual harmony, little acts of affection and admiration, acknowledging each others’ efforts—all of these carry as much power in a long-term healthy relationship as a sexual life based on communication and understanding.
3. Shared Interests
When speaking of novel experiences, Dr. Rao specifies that “"the whole family or the couple need to participate in a shared activity. They cannot be watching a movie or listening to music as they are really not interacting. Both should indulge in something that is productive in the end."
For example, playing games, going for daily walks, cooking together or doing crafts all account for meaningful and stimulating conversations. You end up looking forward to these daily traditions as a positive habit.
4. Individual space and becoming aware
It is perhaps apparent, now during the COVID-19 pandemic more than ever, that we tend to end up feeling aggressive and suffocated in our domestic spaces and therefore within our relationships.
According to Dr. Rao, over-closeness is a major drawback. "We get frustrated, easily let out our anger and become vulnerable to our stressful experiences. One thing is being aware that I am within the four walls, my partner is within the four walls. I have to be mindful of it," she advice.
Especially during the present scenario, where work and personal lives have intertwined, we need to maintain a partition within our professional/personal space and the space we share with our loved ones. “Once we are aware, then we know to respect all our feelings,” she adds.
5. Carving out me-time
It becomes increasingly difficult to reach stability and peace in a relationship if the ones involved aren’t individually fulfilled. So it is necessary to try to be a better version of yourself first—nurture your interests, work on your goals and maintain selfhood outside of your identity as part of a couple. Only then can you focus on being a better partner.
To prevent minute cracks in your rapport from becoming glaring fractures, it is crucial to avoid constant denial or repression of the issues troubling you and your partner. It is important to know when to reach out for help for the sake of your future together as well as your well-being.
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