California lifted its mask mandate on February 16, 2022, signaling what many hope will be the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. Couples had to adjust to increased togetherness during the global health crisis. Now, they will have to adjust to spending time apart once again.
Fortunately, The New York Times has some tips for preparing your relationship for post-pandemic life:
Communication Is Key
You and your spouse are likely talking about how much you are looking forward to leaving the house again, but do not get swept up in the excitement. As you reestablish your routine, you will need to discuss and prepare for the challenges you may face. Don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings and needs as your life changes – and listen to what your partner has to say, as well.
Offer and Accept Support
Couples who support one another during times of transition stay together. Offering support to your partner and accepting support when you need it is crucial to the health of your relationship. Recognize that emotions may be high, and this phase of your relationship might not be easy.
Prepare for Conflict
You and your spouse may disagree about which post-COVID activities are safe, have different opinions about the vaccine, and even experience separation anxiety. Instead of ignoring the issues that may arise, write them down and acknowledge them.
Create your list without judgement and carve out time to address the most pressing concerns instead of snapping at one another when you are hungry, tired, or otherwise cranky. Focus on finding ways to accommodate each other’s feelings and finding compromises that satisfy both you and your spouse.
Many couples will have a hard time spending less and less time together as partners return to physical workplaces and the world opens back up. To ease the pain, create rituals to help you spend time together. For example, you and your spouse could establish a “date night” once a week, have breakfast together in the morning, or even have a “no phones” hour before bed every night.
To replicate the feeling of being physically near one another all the time, you can check in more frequently – perhaps with a few text messages a day or a phone call at lunchtime.
Watch Out for Isolation and the “Couple-Cocoon”
You may feel more ready to emerge from the “couple-cocoon” than your spouse, or vice-versa. Once again, be mindful of your partner’s feelings and needs and try to be accommodating. You may need to re-establish some boundaries, but make sure both partners “feel completely heard and understood” while you do so. Keep in mind that the goal is to help both partners feel good both inside and outside of the home, thus strengthening your relationship.
Be mindful that your partner may feel isolated – and try to find ways to help. If your spouse is continuing to work from home, for example, or your spouse’s friend group is less ready for social activities, try to find ways to help your spouse connect with others.
Hosting an outdoor barbeque, for instance, can give both you and your partner a chance to socialize and feel less alone.
Keep an Open Mind
Even if you have been married for a long time, you should remain curious about your spouse and recognize that your partner can always surprise you.
Be open-minded and give your spouse the opportunity for reinvention within your relationship. Talk about how you would each like to structure your lives after the pandemic. You may even want to try some new things together.
Once again, communication is extremely important during this time of rediscovery and reinvention.
Work Things Out
The pandemic was a difficult time for many couples. If you can, try to work through old hurts and move forward. If you need help, consider contacting a marriage and family therapist to help you move into the next phase of your marriage.
Some couples may feel like the pandemic was “the last straw,” in their marriage, and this is okay, too. If you cannot work things out, you should not be ashamed to reinvent your life without your spouse.
Fenchel Family Law PC can help. We focus on helping clients take their lives back and create more vibrant futures by making changes within their families.
Discuss your future with us during a consultation – call us at (415) 650-1112 or contact us online to schedule yours today.