By Jenn Sinrich
Most of us are spending a lot more time at home than we usually do due to the coronavirus pandemic, forcing many couples to spend constant one-on-one time together. While this can bring about challenges in a relationship, especially since you’re used to having your own space and routines, it can also help boost your relationship, too.
“This period of constant contact can be a time when couples turn a very changeling, uncertain and stressful situation into one that helps them grow and bond as a couple,” says Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., relationship expert, professor at Oakland University and author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great. “It can also be a time when they ‘get to know each other better’ and ‘boost their relationship.’”
Though these unchartered waters are not easy to navigate, having the mind state that you’re in it together can go a long way for your individual mental and emotional health as well as the health of your relationship. If you’ve been looking for an excuse to work on your relationship, there’s certainly no time like the present.
Here, relationship experts share the best strategies for boosting your relationship from home.
Unplug from devices.
It can be tempting to watch the news on TV or by scrolling through your smartphone, especially when the headlines surrounding COVID-19 are changing by the minute, but it’s important to disconnect from devices now and then. Not only does it help your own wellbeing, but it helps you be less on edge and reactive against your partner. “If you don’t have kids, or the kids are old enough to be home alone for a bit, take a walk together (keeping appropriate social distance from others you may pass when outdoors),” suggests Wendi L. Dumbroff, a licensed professional counselor in Madison, New Jersey.
Given the challenges and stress in today's world, Dr. Orbuch reminds couples of the importance of having fun with your partner. “Laughter helps reduce stress, and it also bonds partners together (and can ignite passion),” she says. “Play board games, do a puzzle together, play cards together, watch funny movies together, watch comedians online together—just have fun and laugh!” Doing so will help you both as an individual and boost your relationship.
Do an online workout side-by-side.
Your favorite studio might be shut down during the pandemic, but many exercise facilities are offering online classes that you can do from home. Enlist your partner as your workout buddy! “Studies show that when you exercise with your partner, it can increase passion and excitement in your relationship,” says Dr. Orbuch. The arousal that is produced through exercise - if done with your partner - can get transferred to your partner and relationship. Dancing is both arousal producing and uses touch. All good for couples and their relationships.
Make dinner together.
Creating a culinary masterpiece with your partner is a fun challenge that allows you to play on the same team. Whether it’s a time-honored recipe you both love or something totally new, get to work in the kitchen to craft yourselves a meal. Light some candles, set the table and have a little date night in the comfort of your home.
Get to know each other again.
Even if you think you know everything there is to know about your partner, you may be surprised to learn a thing or to by simply asking questions you never thought to ask. “One trait of happy couples is that they continue to get to know each other—their inner lives and social worlds—what makes them tick,” says Dr. Orbuch. She recommends asking your partner a set of questions about things you may have asked when you were first dating, like what superhuman power they you like to have, where they would want to travel to right now, what was their favorite subject in high school, etc.
Clean the house together.
There’s no better time to start some spring cleaning! Why not do it together? “Declutter the master bedroom, get rid of things that are taking up space, move furniture around, buy some pillows or a new comforter online,” suggests Dawn Michael, Ph.D., clinical sexologist, relationship expert and author. “Buy some candles and other accessories to spruce up the room and turn it into a romantic sanctuary for just the two of you!”
Take time to be alone, too.
Especially when you’re with your partner 24/7, there’s nothing wrong with wanting a little alone time. In fact, it may boost your relationship. “If there are children that need tending to, you and your partner can agree on times when you will give each other a break,” says Dumbroff. “If it’s just the two of you, it’s still okay to ask for some quiet time on your own, or to be together working side by side but not talking.” Giving each other a little time and space, when needed, she notes, will make you both better for each other when you are together.