Love may be a "many-splendored" thing. But after being stuck at home with your special someone for days on end, you might be ready to say “It’s not me. It’s you.”
Rest assured, you’re not alone.
Dr. Harville Hendrix and Dr. Helen LaKelly Hunt are relationship experts, New York Times-bestselling authors and couples therapists. They explained that relationships require hard work, and minor issues can be amplified after spending so much time with one another.
“Being in the house with someone who usually goes to work, and having to regulate your time and schedule with kids and everything else, brings a level of stress to what’s already stressful, and that’s being in a relationship with another human being,” Hendrix said.
Our experts say sometimes the fix is simple: getting a little alone time. This applies to couples who have been married for decades and to those who may have only been dating for a few months. The natural ebb and flow of a relationship should allow for some time apart.
The trouble is in finding that time when we’re limited to where we can go. And too often, couples don’t know how to ask for that space. Hendrix advised that’s why it’s important to be honest about what you need.
“Have a conversation and say, what I’d like to do and talk about is some private time for me and private time for you, if you want it,” he explained. “Make a plan, don’t just act out and therefore confuse your partner and trigger them.”
Another problem for couples is simply finding ways to fill the day. What do you do, day after day, hour after hour? There are only so many seasons of The Bachelor a couple can stream together. Hunt said when it comes to finding ways to spend time with one another, they should simply take turns.
“Every odd day of the calendar, days 1, 3, 5, it’s my turn to make sure we go to bed connected, “ she said. “And even days, it’s Harville’s day. But this helps both people show up and take responsibility.”
“Be sure to have fun,” Hendrix also said. “Fun does something to the brain, produce those positive neurochemicals that are already in our bodies, because fun reduces anxiety.”
Perhaps it’s ironic that during a time when we’re so far apart, being together all the time can be too much of a good thing. But our experts remind us that with a little work, listening and honest communication, our relationships can emerge on the other side even stronger.
“We can get through this, we will get through this,” Hendrix said. “Stay together, work together, be partners together to create the healthiest relationship you can, because that’s the surest way to come out of this with your relationship intact and alive.”