Hello everybody, welcome to episode 74 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino. Lots of talk about the quarantine lately – plenty of which has to do with how couples are making it work when spending so much more time together than they’re used to. Today’s question comes from a man who recently moved in with his girlfriend and is trying to navigate these changes gracefully. Let’s see what he’s got for us today…
QUESTION: “It seems like a lot of people are talking about getting into more fights with their significant others during quarantine! Me and my girlfriend have been fighting a little more, but I want to stay ahead of the curve and keep us on a healthy track. Many of our arguments have been about little things and we want to keep it that way. Are there things I can be doing right now as a boyfriend to help us weather this storm together?”
Couples in Quarantine
You’re right, there is a lot of talk about couples having a harder time right now and arguing much more now that they can’t leave the house. Sorta funny, sorta not funny. By the way, again, for future listeners, this episode is being produced during the Coronavirus pandemic which has left people inside for an indefinite period of time. But this episode will have lessons for all couples whether or not they’re in a pandemic so listen up.
And that is particularly true not only because the qualities of a good partnership rarely change, but because right now everything’s coming out of the wash. Our true selves are really coming out in the time of this pandemic and hopefully we’re taking the time to observe these things and consider how we can live life in a way that’s more true to who we are once this is done with.
With that being the case, obviously couples who live together are learning about one another in a whole new gear, and getting rewarded with a legitimate test as to whether or not the match is a good one.
A Future Together
Now for you, asker of this question, keep that in mind. It’s very honorable that you want to keep things on a healthy track with your girlfriend and it tells me you have very good intentions in this relationship. But I encourage you to spend as much attention on IF you’re right for each other as you are on HOW to be right for each other. Wanting to go above and beyond to raise your game as a boyfriend in this time is so good. It’s so, so good. But if that desire overpowers your desire to go above and beyond for yourself, you’re going to run into a spot of trouble, as many people do that are madly in love with their partners.
I say this not to be ominous or threatening in any way, I simply say this to remind you that both of your true colors are going to come out during this time stuck inside together, and that those true colors will determine whether or not this is a good fit long term. If you’re both very excited about this relationship and the potential it has to go the distance, then this test will likely only expose you to even more reasons to believe in your future together.
Learning about Your Relationship
You mentioned slightly more arguing about little things. That’s natural right now, but investigate the roots of these newly sprouted arguments to learn about the side of your girlfriend and her needs that you may not have known before. Get curious about what you’re both trying to express and explore it openly rather than putting so much emphasis on not arguing that it runs the risk of suppressing emotions that are inconvenient but nevertheless important.
So learn before trying to change is all I’m saying. And let that learning teach you about the true undercurrents of your relationship.
Right now you seem to be making it your mission to make sure this relationship stays afloat in trying times. Again, can’t praise that enough. But doing that really relies on how well you’re able to see your girlfriend’s mission right now – whether it’s the same as yours, the same as yours to a different degree, or something else.
Romantic partners sometimes have different ideas as to what the relationship needs and how to attain it, so find out what your girlfriend needs right now. Does she need some time to herself and the TV at night or does she want to drink wine and talk with you? Does she like to get outside every day or is she content to play video games and only go for a walk a couple of times a week?
Making the right decisions at small crossroads like these helps people thrive and offer themselves better to the relationships they’re in. So while you develop your good ideas in your own ways as to how to make the most of this time, pay attention to what hers are before you enlist some kind of strategy you read about online on the both of you.
Doing her this service will encourage her to do the same for you.
Growing Together during Quarantine and Beyond
While you’re making this effort to learn more about her, her space, and her needs, you won’t be able to help measuring them against your own, which is good. Even better is that you can learn more about what binds you that you CAN work on together.
Definitely consider the mutual interests you both share during this quarantine, and how you two can walk those paths together. While each person in a relationship has their own traits that make them individuals first and foremost, ideally, you want to find common ground and go about it together to have success as a couple. You want to (hopefully) grow in the same ways, and even staying stagnant in some ways is fine as long as it’s something you’re on the same page about.
My bet is you already know a lot of these things you have in common – whether they’re long term goals or everyday interests. Don’t forget about these. These shared items are likely a big part of why the relationship has worked thus far and why the fighting has been minimal in this lockdown.
Although all the talk of the stresses put on a relationship in this time is scary, that doesn’t mean the relationship needs a complete makeover. Maintain the things that have already worked for you to as best you can within a quarantine setting. This will only make the learning process easier.
Trying to micromanage a complete overhaul is going to change the relationship far more than it needs to be changed or is already being changed naturally as the result of what’s going on.
Use this time collaborate with her, learn about her, and then acquaint yourself with the things you have in common or can tolerate right now as they will ultimately be what makes or breaks it.
Thank you so much to the man who sent this question in. I hope it was able to help you and all couples out there.
General note for everyone: use this time to get back to the simple pleasures in life. Reacquire interest and gratitude for things like fresh air, good conversation, tasty food. That will go a long way in helping us all stay level headed and not be as prone to fighting.
Now if you have a question of your own you’d like answered here on Optimal Living Advice, go ahead and send it on in. Email it to us at advice AT oldpodcast DOT com
Hope to hear from you guys. In the meantime, we’re wrapping up for today. Thank you for being here, thank you for your support, and I can’t wait to talk to you next time!