If there’s one thing most couples probably haven’t planned for, it’s quarantine.
I think it’s safe to say we are living in strange and unexpected times. The coronavirus outbreak that has raged across the world was recently declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, and countries across the globe are putting measures in place to try to put a stop to the spread as soon as possible. This has ranged from imposing sweeping travel bans and screening travellers at airports, to the closing of “non-essential” businesses and the banning of mass gatherings.
It is right and important that we all do our bit to stop the spread of the coronavirus, particularly if we are showing symptoms or have come into contact with someone else who is. But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy.
For co-habiting couples in particular, self-isolation is likely to be a real test of endurance. Living in each other’s pockets with nowhere else to go can cause things that wouldn’t normally be a problem to escalate, and things that don’t irk you usually could potentially become a cause for irritation. Particularly if you both have different interests or lead fairly separate lives outside of your home, self-isolation as a couple could prove to be tricky.
But new research published in Psychology Today could hold the key to successful co-habitation during the coronavirus outbreak. According to a study published earlier this year, sensitivity is the secret weapon you can wield to make the best of and improve your romantic relationships.
Perhaps one of the most obvious characteristics of a sensitive soul is empathy – and this is also one of the traits that will serve you and your partner well when you’re on lockdown. Self-isolating involves a complete and sudden change of lifestyle for a while, and that’s not something many people will find easy. So while you may find yourself being sensitive to the little things that are causing irritation, try and redirect that energy into being empathetic. Then, once you have empathy, consideration and tolerance will start to follow.
Maybe your partner is being moody, or has picked up a habit that you can’t stand in order to deal with being cooped up. Instead of reacting with anger or frustration, try and understand why they feel the need to act the way they are, and maybe talk to them about it. Remember that at some point you’ll probably annoy them just as much as they annoy you.
Psychologist Meng Li says that another key component of sensitivity lies in “reading” your partner’s emotions. Trying to understand where your partner is coming from, why they are reacting the way they are, and what it is their behaviour is trying to tell you makes it far easier for you to respond effectively, productively, and with care. This could prove to be a vital skill in a situation where you’re self-isolating with a partner.
Ultimately, being sensitive means being patient, understanding and considerate. It would be best to put these principles into practice sooner rather than later. Then, if an argument does break out – as it likely will at one time or another – you will hopefully have the tools you need not to take it to a place that will cause lasting damage.