Take time out, keep laughing: Expert tips for keeping your relationship thriving in lockdown

Whether you're cautiously coming out of lockdown restrictions in COVID-19 alert level 2 or you're an Aucklander staring down the barrel of at least a couple more weeks at home, there's no doubt days on end spent in your bubble can take lead to relationship strain. 

The uncertainty, stress and close-knit quarters of lockdown, plus navigating new (yet old) territory like homeschooling and working from home, it can all take its toll. 

According to the BBC, last year's lockdowns saw a spike in divorces and breakups worldwide, with one UK divorce lawyer calling it the "perfect storm" for couples on the brink of separation. 

But NZ relationship expert and founder of Equal Exes Bridgette Jackson says there are steps that can be taken to help your relationship thrive during this uncertain time. 

"There will be good, and a few not so good days for your both, so it's important to discuss what you can both do to help your relationship," she told Newshub. 

Bridgette Jackson says you have to work at your relationship over lockdown to allow it to thrive.
Bridgette Jackson says you have to work at your relationship over lockdown to allow it to thrive. Photo credit: Supplied.

Jackson put together her top tips for keeping your relationship steady during lockdown, especially if you're losing your groove amid your vital roles as parents or essential workers. 

Maintain your connection through routine 

Try and keep life as normal as possible. Routine is a good thing for you and your plus one as it creates stability and security in the relationship, especially in times of uncertainty. Children also need structure and routine which allows parents to have sexy time after the children have gone to bed. Letting the kids stay up until midnight is fine as a one-off, but doing this every night will mean tired and antsy little ones the next day. 

Time out for mum or dad

Time out helps restore a sense of identity for parents. Time alone fulfils a human's needs, wants and goals outside being a parent that can be easy to ignore. Make a plan so you both get time out from the kids, like one parent looks after the kids in the morning and the other in the afternoon. When you have time off make the most of it. Remove yourself from the busy common family area - go for a walk or Zoom friends for a chat.

Cut yourselves some slack 

No one has the handbook on how things should go during lockdown. It's OK to get things wrong. Realise that you are doing your best and no one is an expert at being stuck at home 24/7! Resenting each other is paralyzing emotionally: It is through harbouring this emotion that will hinder forgetting - thus we must forgive first. 

Laugh together, stay together 

It is important to have a partner who shares the same sense of fun and humour. Relationship satisfaction is the humour that couples create together. Laugh together every day as a family whilst in such close quarters. Find some humour in the small things - have a PJ party or have a dress-up theme for dinner.

Have an attitude of gratitude

Make an effort to do small daily acts of kindness: Bring your partner a cup of tea in the morning, tidy the kitchen, compliment them. Try to notice good things and show your appreciation when your partner says or does something kind or thoughtful. There is so much to be thankful for. We have our family, we live in a beautiful country and we are lucky to have each other.