How to Nurture Relationships When You're At Home for LongerNone By Lauren Marcus
Millions of people around the globe are now at home with their loved ones for the foreseeable future. Whether you live with your significant other and a gaggle of kids and pets, or your parents and siblings, being at home together for an extended period of time is an excellent opportunity to nurture your relationships with those closest to you. Being inside doesn’t mean you have to feel stuck — you can strengthen your bonds with the people who matter most, while making the best of it, together.
Think you know everything about your partner or kids? As the great poet Walt Whitman said, we all “contain multitudes.” Ask questions and explore the sides of your loved ones that you usually don’t get a chance to talk about. Your partner mentioned that they were a soccer star back in high school? This is the perfect opportunity to kick the ball around in the backyard and watch them show off their skills. Has your daughter recently mentioned that she’s interested in the galaxy? Hop online and take a virtual tour of the stars via Space Engine. Ask your loved ones questions - their answers may surprise you.
This is also a great time to check in with your partner. While this probably isn’t the ideal period to attempt self-led couples therapy, you can have discussions that were postponed in the past and you never got around to revisiting.
Greg and Rose Yerex, a Canadian couple in their sixties, spoke to The New Yorker about how their time quarantined aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship brought them closer together. “We learned to talk to each other again,” Greg said. “We’ve been married thirty-four years, and we’d drifted into some pretty serious bad habits.” He continued, “Being put together for twenty-four hours a day for two weeks, we wound up learning a lot about each other’s fears, hopes, and dreams.”
Don’t let social distancing stop you from staying in touch with friends and family who don’t live with you. This is an ideal time to leverage all the technology at your fingertips - everything from Skype, FaceTime, text messaging apps, and even old fashioned phone calls are at your disposal. Take care to reach out to friends who live alone and to elderly relatives, who may feel especially isolated during this time. The simple act of checking in on them will make them feel cared for, and that feeling will last long after social distancing winds down.
Does a friend’s birthday bash need to be postponed during social distancing? You can still celebrate! Try having a virtual party via Zoom or Skype. Multiple participants can join in, giving you the chance to celebrate your friend on their special day. Depending where you live, you can also explore options like flower and balloon deliveries that can be left outside the recipient’s door. A sweet surprise to let someone know you were thinking of them will likely be deeply appreciated.
If there’s a series that you and your friends and family love, you can watch it together while giving your running commentary in a group chat. You can also host movie nights using Netflix Party. The app lets you watch movies remotely at the same time as your friends, via a split screen feature so that you can see their reactions in real-time and chat in the sidebar.
It might seem like a contradiction, but solo time is an absolute must for your relationships during this extended period of togetherness. Spending a ton of time with anyone in close proximity can lead to patience wearing a bit thin, and this is especially true for uninterrupted time with our loved ones. But the good news is that even though you’re in close quarters, you don’t have to be attached at the hip 24/7.
Dr. Orna Guralnik of Showtime’s Couples Therapy suggests, “The best way, if you have the luxury and the means, is to be in separate spaces. One goes in the bedroom, and one goes in the kitchen. If you can’t do that, there are things like headphones or earplugs, to create artificial boundaries.” You can also get creative with furniture arrangements - think pushing a table against a wall to create a distraction-free work space, or using a curtain to divide the room, if necessary.
Be sure to make time for solo activities like reading, so that everyone can have some “me time” each day. A small break from each other means that you can refresh and resume spending time together with a renewed sense of patience and understanding. A little bit of space can go a long way.
While there are added pressures that come along with spending a lot of time at home with your loved ones, you can use the time together to strengthen your most important relationships. Once we all get back to our regular lives, the benefits of strengthening your relationships will last well beyond the quarantine period.
This article originally appeared on Goodnet and is republished here with permission.
You May Also Like: