Americans are spending more time at home than ever. From shelter-in-place restrictions to remote-working and financial belt-tightening, we've found ourselves living more of our lives without the luxuries of the outside world.
This is a trend that began long before the coronavirus and will likely continue even after the pandemic has ended. The convenience of this is seductive: no more morning commutes, no more long bank lines or expensive movie tickets. It seems like most of the tasks we needed to leave home for can be accomplished from the couch.
But many are finding that there's a price to pay for the convenience.
Relationships in particular can suffer when partners feel boxed in. Sure, Netflix and a pizza are great for when you don't want to change out of your sweatpants, but there's something to be said about a change of scenery that can keep a relationship fresh.
Of course, a change in scenery is hard when you're forced to be cooped up at home. So what do you do when you find your relationship becoming stagnant but can't swing a fancy dinner or beach vacation? Here's a look at 5 ways to improve your relationship even if you're cooped up at home.
Trade the Screen for a Board Game
Any couple with a Netflix subscription knows how easy it is to default to the couch with a bowl of popcorn and a bingeable new series. But sometimes that can be escapist, a way of being together without having to engage with each other. If you find yourselves spending too much time together-but-apart, board games, jigsaw puzzles, and the like are great alternatives that still inject your life with entertainment and distraction, but in a way that allows you to engage with each other. And who knows? Maybe the competition will help you resolve some of those unspoken conflicts.
Write Letters to Each Other
Maybe spending too much time together has reduced your communication to monosyllabic sentences and grunts. It's perfectly normal to fall into a verbal routine with someone you're living with, where even standard sentences are abbreviated into shorthand such as "Dinner?" or "Hey--dishes." If you find that happening, why not pretend that you're apart? Sit down with a pad of paper (or even email) and write to your partner as if they weren't there. It doesn't matter what you write about--you can tell them about your day, describe the weather outside, make your letters literary, seductive, or dirty. You'll be surprised what comes out, and letter-writing can evolve into a flirty, seductive game between the two of you even if you're living together. Just leave it on their pillow in the morning, and wait anxiously for their reply.
Rediscover What Brought You Together
The difference between your partner and a roommate is that you're with your partner for more than just cheaper rent. That can be easy to forget though, as things become more routine. It helps to remind yourselves that there are interests and passions that brought you two together. What did you talk about on your first date? Was there a topic that you both bonded over? These days, you're almost guaranteed to find online classes, Ted talks, remote museum tours, and more that touch on your favorite shared passions. It will not only give you a stimulating break from Netflix streaming, but also remind you of what brought you two together in the first place.
Try Online Couples Therapy
There may be some issues that can't be placated with board games or flirty letters. In this case, you may want to consider online couples counseling, a service that closely resembles traditional therapy but takes place online. Today there are a number of online counseling platforms that will provide you and your partner a space to speak with a counselor via live video, phone, or chat. Even if you can't make it to a therapist's office, you can find someone qualified to help you resolve conflicts and overcome any other problems that may exist in your relationship.
Sometimes the best way to come together is to find a common enemy. No, this isn't a suggestion to start a war with the neighbors. Instead, consider finding a partner's game you can play with another couple. The internet is full of options: you can play online charades or compete in running trivia tournaments, strategy games, or online contests that will allow you and your partner to join together for the sake of sweet victory.
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