Many couples are struggling to balance connection and alone time while sharing physical space at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Family studies expert Mariana Falconier — who leads Together, a free program for couples offered by Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland, College Park, shares some ideas on how to adapt to being at home together and improve your relationship during this time.
1. Talk about your “love language.” Be intentional to understand each other’s needs and communicate about what might be missing in your relationship.
2. Don’t take things personally. Sometimes we get on each other’s nerves while we’re cooped up and under stress. Assume “purity of intention” with your partner.
3. Have fun together. Watch something funny on TV. Laughter is medicine for the soul.
4. Limit your screen time so you have more time for other activities that you can do together, such as exercising, cooking, or playing a board game.
5. Go outside and take a walk in the fresh air.
6. Read together. Poetry, inspirational stories, and books about other difficult moments in time can help you see that this is a collective moment in time, and these major ups and downs are part of history.
7. Set a daily routine. Wake up and go to bed at the same time. Quality of sleep greatly affects your mood and physical health. Developing a daily routine has other benefits. For example, eating and exercising at the same times each day is good for your overall wellbeing. Keeping these routines will help manage your time better, which will have a positive effect on mood and help you feel productive.
8. Look for ways to help your partner, especially if you have children.
9. Find time to connect at the end of the day. Although you’re home together, you may be working and not seeing each other during the day.
Make plans together. This is an excellent time to do budgeting and financial planning. It’s also a great time to discuss life after the pandemic, such as the first fun activity you’ll do together after social distancing restrictions are safely lifted.
10. Try a new hobby. Painting, gardening, cooking, knitting, scrapbooking, and learning a new language are all activities you can do by yourself for some alone time or as a couple to spend more quality time together.
11. Organize the house together. Take this time to reorganize your bedroom, closets, bathroom, kitchen, or any other areas of the house that need to be tidied up or even just refreshed for a change of scenery.
12. Take a virtual tour. Many museums, national parks, and zoos have landing pages for visitors to experience and learn more. There are even videos of penguins taking private tours through art museums.
Together is a free program for couples offered by Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland, College Park. It integrates relationship education and financial education. Couples are taught tools to manage stress individually and together as a couple, communicate constructively and problem solve together, and better manage their finances.
The program has case managers who help couples connect to other supportive services that they may include health, educational, housing, or employment services. For more information, visit: togetherprogram.org.