If you are struggling to maintain a healthy relationship with your romantic partner during the COVID-19 pandemic, you are not alone. Being locked up with a partner (and possibly a child) for months during a global health crisis would put stress on all relationships. Add the possibility that you lost income due to termination or outages and you may have found yourself tackling new financial challenges.
We talked to couples to find out how the coronavirus pandemic affected their romantic relationships and what they learned about love in the COVID era. This is what they said:
It's okay to have a "free" day
During the pandemic, Daniella Flores learned that not everything is what it seems. How your partner acts does not always depend on something you do, especially during a traumatic situation where people are terrified. That trauma can take up mental, emotional and psychological things, says Flores, creator and author of I Like to Dabble.
While Flores was able to work full-time remotely during the pandemic, their wife still had to work. "I know it was very stressful for her to see people come to work and get sick," says Flores. The exhaustion and stress that the work caused could have caused arguments at home, but they became good at keeping open communication.
If your partner seems offended or struggling emotionally, Flores said to give them the safe space to talk about their feelings and let them feel it. "Do not try to hurry to become a 'fixer', let them process what they need to process."
Love (and your bank account) can flourish without frills
Extravagant dating nights and baecations were no longer on the cards for many couples due to maturities, terminations and travel restrictions, but they found ways to keep the spark alive.
Spencer Yeomans and his girlfriend had to cut spending after getting engaged. "The money was tight and we had to make a lot of tough decisions about what we can continue to afford and what we have to do without," said Yeomans, founder of the outdoor blog Untamed Space.
They enjoy cycling and hiking for recreation instead of going to the movies or spending money. "We found out that we prefer the minimalist approach and that when our basic necessities are met, we do not need much else," says Yeomans. Both their relationship and bank accounts have flourished since they switched to minimalism.
Brittany Herzberg, massage therapist and copywriter, found creative ways to spend time with her boyfriend for ten years while reducing spending due to a covid-related income cut. They found happiness in iced tea and cocoa dates and enjoyed watching TV shows together about food, travel and home. "We have talked about it and agree that the pandemic brought us closer," Herzberg said.
A state of emergency can strengthen new relationships
Although the pandemic was a source of anxiety and relationship stress for many couples, it also helped to create strong relationships with others. For some new couples, the pandemic accelerated the dating process. Athena Valentine, the founder of Money Smart Latina and columnist at Slate, started dating her boyfriend in July last year and the relationship developed rapidly.
“Since everything was literally turned off for the longest time, we literally had nothing to do but sit and talk to each other. As a result, we got serious pretty quickly but at the same time it just felt right, says Valentine. They experienced two deaths and one dismissal within two months, but the band they built up during the lockdown helped them cope with tough times.
Before the pandemic, Tatiana Gavrilina had just started dating her boyfriend, and they moved in immediately. Gavrilina, author of content marketing at DDI Development, had also recently started a new job and could not contribute financially in a few months. The couple solved money issues by having mutual respect and a desire to understand each other.
"We had to solve all the complicated issues when we went and did not try to hurt each other's feelings," Gavrilina said. For them, the challenges they faced during the pandemic had a positive effect on their relationship.
Job loss can affect more than just your budget
If you or a partner is fired from your job, your first concern may be how to cope. But your budget is not the only thing that can be affected by job loss ̵1; it can also affect you emotionally. Valentine learned how much a person's identity is wrapped up in their income when her boyfriend was fired during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last year was one of Valentin's highest incomes, but her partner struggled with depression after losing his job. "It was so hard to see this funny guy that I had [known] for three months to get hit hard by this so early into our relationship, especially since this was meant to be the fun early dating era."
Valentine had to get used to a new dynamic where she flourished in her career while her partner struggled during the coronavirus outbreak. In previous relationships, it was usually the other way around.
Planning for tomorrow is as important as planning for today
Pavel Ladziak, photographer, fitness advocate and founder of TheBeardStruggle, realized with his wife how important transparency was in their relationship, especially when it came to spending. They have been together for ten years and married for five years. "Before, we did not talk much about money because we manage a joint account for household expenses. As long as the important expenses were covered, we never discussed investments and pension plans," says Ladziak.
Now they put more focus on long-term planning so that they can meet future goals, such as increasing their online business and saving for their son's future.They also spend more of their money on experiences together.They recently remodeled their backyard to make it a space where they can enjoy the outdoors with their son
Spending time apart does not mean anything is wrong
Nicole Evert is a blogger at Creating Butterflies, the wife and mother of four children who had to leave their teaching job during the pandemic to stay home with the children while they did distance learning.
Before COVID, the couple wished they had more time together. During the pandemic, they appreciated time together – but also appreciated time apart. "We have learned us that it is healthy for our relationship to spend some time apart and does not mean that you love each other less ", says Evert.
Going from two incomes to one also forced a change in some of their economic priorities. "We had to learn what we really needed compared to things we just wanted," Evert said.
Always have gratitude
Dominique Brown already worked from home before the pandemic, so shutdowns did not change the time he spent with his family. But it brought the family closer at a time when they welcomed a new family member. Their daughter, Kinsley, was born a year ago.
"The situation in reality makes you realize how grateful you are, so you appreciate things much more because you never know when things can be taken away from you, whether it is food, a hug, [or] a touch", says Brown, a financial expert and owner of Your Finances Simplified, a company that teaches people how to simplify their finances one cent at a time.
He is also grateful for the financial situation they are in after hearing stories about how COVID-19 affected people's livelihoods and finances. Brown runs several online businesses that saw growth during the COVID-19 lockout as more people spent time at home. Seeing other companies struggle to start online systems validated the effort he put into building companies that could be managed remotely.
Given how stressful the last few months have been, you may have guessed that it took a negative toll on relationships. By talking to couples, we learned that the pandemic brought new challenges in the relationship, but many relationships flourished because of them.