When the pandemic first started, there was a lot of speculations about the effect lockdown would have on marriages and committed relationships.
Many experts believed couples being forced to spend so much time in each other’s company would result in a slew of new breakups and divorces. According to recent research, this hasn’t been the case. Relationships that were strong before the pandemic began have actually thrived. The ones that struggled were those that were already navigating challenges.
According to Brigham Young University’s 2021 American Family Survey, 43% of the 3,000 participants judged the relationship they shared with their significant other to be stronger than it had been before the pandemic.
A total of 42% felt spending more time together during the pandemic deepened their commitment, while 54% said they appreciated their partner more.
Even dating sites like Match and OkCupid found members moving away from casual hookups in favor of long-term relationships.
But as people return to working in the office and being more social, they may find themselves returning to some old relationship habits. These have the potential to undermine the strides couples have made over the past two years.
My friend and her husband created Fun Friday during the pandemic. This meant they consciously found things to do together after work on Fridays. Last Friday, she was already downtown for an appointment, so I met up with her and we enjoyed a local happy hour.
What about Fun Friday you might ask? It’s not like her husband was no longer important, but this young woman also wanted to spend some time with a friend. She hadn’t had many opportunities to do that for a while.
It’s okay to drop some of your pandemic relationship habits, as long as you’re aware of what’s happening and don’t let everything slide back to the way it was a few years ago.
60% of participants in a poll from Monmouth University considered themselves extremely satisfied with their relationship in January of 2022. That’s down 10% from 2021.
The percentage of people who said their partner was extremely important to their happiness was down 12% in the same time period.
In order to maintain the relationship gains you’ve created during the pandemic, it’s important to create new habits and be aware of the downfall of not consciously caring for your connection.
Start by committing a specific amount of time every week, to spend with your significant other. I like the idea of a minimum of four hours. If you can create a four-hour work week, surely you can manage to maintain a relationship in that amount of time.
Be intentional about what you do during this time. I recently stumbled on the acronym NICE to represent the types of activities you should choose to engage in to get the most from your togetherness.
Look for activities that are a combination of New, Interesting, Challenging, and Exciting.
Things that have been proven to help strengthen bonds with romantic partners include:
• Showing affection
• Laughing together
• Thinking about the future
• Going out
• Playing board games
• Taking art classes
• Watching romantic movies and discussing how the themes of the film relate to their own relationship
• Communicating about a wide range of personal topics.
• Spending time in nature
The important thing to take from this information is to be cautious about letting your relationship slide back into old habits. Be intentional about the time you spend together and the activities you fill this time with.
And remember, a little effort goes a long way.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.