Life as we once knew it changed dramatically one the coronavirus pandemic made its way through America in early 2020—and it has continued to redefine our everyday lives well into 2021. While it was understandably difficult to be single throughout the pandemic, it was not necessarily “easy” to be in a relationship either.
“If you and your partner were quarantining together and working from home, you went from being apart for many hours a day to being together 24/7, and trying to get enough space to make business phone calls, attend video meetings and have some mental space for yourselves,” explains Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., psychotherapist and author of How to Be Happy Partners. “This lack of space and privacy, coupled with the inconvenience of having makeshift workspaces can be very irritating.”
Needless to say, if you and your partner have made it through the last 10 months unscathed, without so much as a handful of really tough arguments, you’re one of the few. In fact, it’s actually very normal for couples to argue more than usual during highly stressful times, according to Liana Lorenzo-Echeverri, a licensed marriage and family therapist with the Counseling and Wellness Center of South Florida. “Quarreling is inevitable in any relationship, especially when quarantining together, and is not a sign of an unhealthy relationship,” she says. “What is important is how you handle that quarreling, and how you communicate and interact with one another.”
If you and your partner have found it difficult to connect during quarantine, not to worry. Here are some key signs that tensions will ease up once life goes back to normal.
You’re both nitpicking quite often.
Nitpicking and minor annoyances that normally wouldn’t be bothersome can be due to the magnifying glass your relationship is being put under, warns Dr. Lorenzo-Echeverri. “Unnecessary arguments causing the couple to argue about details that do not necessarily lead to arguing under normal circumstances,” she says. “For example, if you are arguing over who took out the trash last or who did the dishes last.” Once the pandemic is over, this nitpicking will likely seize to exist, especially if you’re no longer spending every waking moment together, she notes.
You argue over which friends members and family you see.
In an attempt to protect each other, as well as your loved ones, from the virus you may have argued over who you see during the pandemic, which can cause stress and disagreements amongst families and within the household, notes Dr. Lorenzo-Echeverri. “If one partner in the relationship may feel comfortable seeing their friends and family members when the other partner does not, this can lead to disagreements in how they wish to handle the pandemic,” she explains. “In a world without COVID-19, that is not a struggle couples have to face.”
You rarely tell your partner how much they mean to you.
When you and your partner are spending every waking second together, you’re rarely reminded of what life is like without them—neither of you are taking trips away from each other or are spending time with other people. Hopefully, once the pandemic is in our rear-view window, you’ll remember to express your gratitude to each other for surviving the pandemic, notes Dr. Tessina. “Not only will this enhance your feelings of closeness, but you may also find that contact between you becomes more attractive, too.”
You’ve had to give up certain hobbies.
It can be very beneficial for each person in a relationship to have their own set of hobbies, ideally that they do on their own or with friends outside the relationship. This not only gives each of you alone time, but it also provides you with something to talk about when you are together. “Quarantining is taking away that aspect of utilizing your individual time to participate in your own set of hobbies,” says Dr. Lorenzo-Echeverri. “This can be challenging when you are constantly forced to stay within your home, possibly leading to aggravations and lack of outlets to have that important space in a relationship.”
Overall, many of these surface-lying struggles will most likely minimize post-quarantine. “They are stressors related to the pandemic and struggles partners can overcome,” says Dr. Lorenzo-Echeverri. “Ultimately, these struggles can improve your relationship once you have seen what you're able to overcome together.”