May 4, 2020

Author: Kat O’Hara
Survivor Counselor


Couples all over the world are finding themselves in situations they never thought they would be in, for better or for worse. Self-quarantine with your partner, for weeks or even months, is a new element that is being added to the “make or break” relationships of today. So how do couples keep their relationship alive?

Being together for a long period of time, sometimes in small spaces can create stressful and unique challenges for couples during self-quarantining. This means more opportunities for connection and getting underneath each other’s skin. Weak relationships, with poor communication skills and boundaries, lack of empathy or appreciation may not last. However, strong relationships with good foundations and a couple other key elements could make a good relationship that much better!

John Gottman’s research shows that a 5:1 ratio of positive comments/gestures to negative comment/gestures tend to mean happiness in a relationship. That being said, couples should “lean in” to one another during these days, which means taking genuine interest in what your partner has to say without distractions of social media, television, etc. Opportunities to show affection, appreciation, empathy, and interest are also ways to continue building each other up during this difficult time.

Stress, fear, and guilt are normal things to experience while we all navigate a new normal, and expressing these feelings is important, so couples should not criticize each other when these emotions are shared. Couples are encouraged to be understanding and actively listen. Couples are also encouraged not to spend every waking moment together during this time, which could cause stress and feelings of discomfort. Having separate activities, work schedules, hobbies, and work out schedules can all help with keeping healthy separation without feeling on top of one another.

Other things that could benefit couples:

– Having separate schedules and work stations if working from home

– Limiting talk about the virus and news updates

– Having lunch together

– Having separate shows you are watching individually, and together

– Planning trips together that you will take after quarantine has ended

– Taking turns making dinner


Contact Families First if you feel you need to have the support of a professional counselor. Families First continues to accept new clients and serve the community through group, couples and individual therapy, virtually! You may also be interested in listening to Podcast # 13: Behaviors that Destroy Our Romantic Relationships and What to Do About It.