Jen Farr & Shane Madill
As we continue to navigate uncharted waters, COVID-19 and self-isolation have introduced new challenges to all aspects of dating life. China has even reported an increase in divorce rates as couples have had to spend more time together. On the flip side, it has also forced some couples who don’t live together to spend time apart, creating long distance relationships.
Public relations is dependent on forming personal connections, building relationships and being committed to making them stronger. And these principles apply to relationships both within, and outside the office. This pandemic has impacted us all professionally and personally, so whether you find yourself unexpectedly sharing your new workspace with your partner or you’ve transitioned to a long-distance relationship, here are some tips we’ve found helpful to getting through the pandemic as a couple.
For sharing atypical workspaces, we recommend:
1. Be respectful
There’s nothing more distracting when you’re in a productivity groove than hearing a sudden, static-filled, “MORNING EVERYONE! Can you hear me okay?” Use headphones to minimize disruption to your partner’s workflow. This is also respectful for clients and colleagues on the other end of the call, as you’re not broadcasting potentially confidential information throughout your household.
2. Communicate and Negotiate
Communication is relationship gold on any given day, but especially during unusual times like these. Have a quick chat in the morning about what your days look like, when you have calls, what your partner needs from you and what you need from them. Maybe you’d like them to take their 11:00a.m. call in the bedroom so you can focus on your report at the kitchen table, and you’ll make sure the dog doesn’t go in and bother them. It’s also a good idea to check in throughout the day, ask how their day is going and communicate what is working and what isn’t in terms of your new daily rhythms. A little communication goes a long way to heading off conflict.
3. Be supportive
A definite disadvantage of working from home is missing out on workplace banter and in-person encouragement from colleagues. But one of the advantages of working from home with your partner is you both get to see what the other does for a living, possibly for the first time. If you overhear a phone call that went really well and leaves your partner with a smile on their face, a high five or a “good job!” wouldn’t hurt. A home workspace can still be a supportive work environment.
For maintaining relationships when you aren’t living together:
1. Make plans and establish a new routine
Date night doesn’t need to stop if you can’t go out. While you and your partner will likely be on different schedules, having consistency for checking in with one another will help keep the connection strong. Book trivia nights, meals together over Zoom, Netflix Party and simply find excuses to talk about what’s new. These are all great ways to stay close when you’re staying apart. Plus, it’s always nice to have things in your calendar to look forward to.
2. Create happiness for yourself
With everyone cooped up inside, it can be tempting, whether consciously or subconsciously, to over-rely on someone else to help satisfy your social, emotional and entertainment needs. Finding a balance between spending time with your partner, trying to be productive and relaxing is important. Understanding what your partner needs too and how they find that balance is also key to staying connected.
3. Remember why you started dating
This sudden breach of routine and normalcy can make it difficult to keep sight of your relationship, whether you’re quarantining together or apart. Take time to reminisce. It is easy to lose track of what the old normal used to be like while you become accustomed to everything new. How you met, your first date and any other nostalgic memories can help internalize positive feelings, independent of the current external pressures.
Even in a non-COVID world, professional and personal relationships evolve and require care and attention to thrive. Now more than ever, keeping the lines of communication open and recognizing that you are both in this together will help your relationship stay the course. Show empathy, flexibility, emotional resiliency and remember why you committed to each other to begin with. While this situation may be new, the fundamental building blocks of respect and communication are not. You’ve got this!