If you clicked on this article, here’s the first thing: Breathe. Conflict is a part of every relationship .
Here’s the second thing: Do NOT feel guilty. If there is more conflict in your relationship than usual, because they’re not taking regular showers, their weird practices are on full display, they act differently in front of their coworkers on zoom – whatever the case – we understand. You’re not alone.
A lot of people are uncovering more traits, forming unsexy habits, and realizing new pet peeves during this unprecendented way of life. But just remember: you’re with your partner for a reason. And you’re not automatically doomed to split once this is over, especially not just because they’re not as perfect as you once thought. I honestly think it’s a great wake up call for many couples, and a unique opportunity to grow.
No really. Take it from us. As nomads, we’ve been together 24/7 by CHOICE (crazy, I know), starting months before the pandemic began. So we know a thing or two about checking in with ourselves and each other, easing irritability, and preventing unnecessary conflict when sharing the same space for an extended period of time.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when you’re fighting with your partner – before confronting your partner or making any rash statements, decisions, or actions towards them:
Hope this isn’t just me — Sometimes I’m just annoyed or frustrated at random things, but don’t take the time to actually process my feelings after each occurrence. Those slight frustrations may then pile up slowly, until all of a sudden, I’m so far past irritable that anything – ANYTHING – someone does may bother me: forgetting to close the door behind them, talking too slowly, breathing or eating too loudly – I mean anything. These minor annoyances sometimes boil over into conflict. If you can relate, write out what specifically has been annoying you; you may read over it and realize 1 of 2 things:
1) these annoyances are important and you need to have a steady but serious conversation about them, or
2) these annoyances actually aren’t that bad, and the level of frustration definitely exceeds the “crime”. You may even laugh at how annoyed you’ve gotten, which could be mood booster in and of itself.
If you get into an irritable rut, not only may you notice the annoying little things more intensely, but you may also forgo appreciating all the lovable little things your partner is still doing. Whether it’s bringing you tea in the morning, checking in with your state of mind that day, cooking a good meal, or even as simple as letting you pick the movie twice in a row – if you take time to recognize the positive things and not just the negative things, you’ll be able to have a more fair and balanced assessment of how you and this could lead to less conflict in your relationship.
Suffice it to say, a pandemic isn’t the happiest of times. With potentially added stress, anxiety, confusion, sadness, or perhaps just plain boredom – the fire may have burned out a bit. You haven’t been able to go to your favorite date night restaurant, enjoy an evening out in town, or kiss in a place other than your apartment because you’re wearing face masks when you’re outside.
You may feel like the romance is just withering away, and that could – very reasonably – be adding to the frustration and irritability towards your partner. You don’t have to let this frustration and irritability turn into conflict.
Yes, you’re obviously spending a lot of time with your partner at the moment if you’re living together during a pandemic. But if you’re finding yourself going from at-home work to a basic dinner to Netflix – without much talk of anything (because, to be fair, there may not be much new going on in either of your lives) then there’s a chance that lack of passion may be a culprit.
But date night still exists! You just have to get a little bit more creative, or take a look at some of our quarantine activity ideas.
Another “I hope this isn’t just me” situation – I can definitely get more randomly annoyed if I haven’t been nurturing my mental and physical health properly. If I find myself particularly moody or overly exasperated, sometimes I just ask myself if I’ve drank enough water that day (literally solves most of my problems), or when the last time I meditated was.
Whatever you know you have to do to stay mentally and physically healthy, make sure you’ve checked those off, especially if you have an inkling that the last time you lashed out was particularly unfair.
Your partner may usually be a huge mood booster, but sometimes what you need to stay healthy and grounded is more space from them. Time to yourself can be a great way of preventing conflict in your relationship.
Of course, the easiest way to do this is to physically get more space – intentionally moving to a different part of the home, like a separate room/bedroom for parts of the day.
But even if you’re living together in a small studio apartment, there are ways to get mental space – you simply have to request it: “I need x amount of time to myself – please do not interrupt me while I ____” (read, meditate, watch cats on YouTube, eat, masturbate, paint a picture, sit and do nothing, write, talk to yourself – whatever you want to do)!
Nobody’s perfect. (I gotta work it, again and again til I get it right….)
But on the real, if I feel like I may be unfairly aggravated, I ground and humble myself by recognizing and reflecting on my behavior as well. I am well aware of how I may have gotten a bit more annoying, uncaring, less sexy, whatever. But I haven’t showered in a while and John doesn’t care at all – so maybe I’ll be a little more agreeable towards the fact that he has worn the same basketball shorts 17 days in a row. Just as a hypothetical example…. *gulp*.
You may realize you want to actually move forward with a serious discussion about your newfound pet peeves.
You may realize that you have not been heard appropriately when you’ve spoken up about said pet peeves in the recent past.
You may realize you have to have an updated conversation about how much space you need.
You may decide that your mental stability has been compromised given the pandemic, and the things you’re annoyed about has less to do with your partner and more about prioritizing your own personal needs and health.
You may realize that your mental stability has been compromised but your partner’s actions are definitely making it worse, so the discussion is still warranted.
Whatever you realize is valid and important, and things will only improve with some sort of action or change.
Hope this helped! If you have any additional ideas for questions people can ask themselves when they’re feeling this way, please list them in the comment section below!
Loving the old; exploring the new,