You can’t spell DIVORCE without COVID, as this Twitter user has pointed out.

Ever since the WHO first declared the coronavirus a pandemic a few months ago, people in relationships have had little choice but to self-isolate together. Couples cohabitating during quarantine are now spending more time together than they ever have before while trying to live and work surrounded by the same four walls all day and night.

This can cause even the most stable of relationships to quickly deteriorate. Couples in China have been locked down for longer than anywhere else, and cities of Dazhou and Xian have both seen record numbers of divorce filings during March alone. To ensure you don’t become another statistic, what are some constructive things in a quarantined relationship?

Rebalance your relationships

Despite the current pandemic, people still need their personal space. Having enough alone time can be therapeutic, and relationships thrive on the delicate balance of spending time both together and apart, so it’s vital that you make time for you. When you’re both working from home, it’s important to create your own personal and separate space in different rooms so that you both have a place to work and think.

Always ensure you communicate clearly with your partner whenever you feel like you need some time alone, and always respect their needs whenever they need some space. It’s also really important that you also spend some quality time together once you’re both off the clock. Turn off distractions from the outside world so you can order food delivery or enjoy a home-cooked meal together, and then maybe binge-watch your current TV show.

Stay connected

The most successful couples have a flexible and creative relationship. This unique situation is an opportunity for you both to think outside the box when it comes to making connections with each other throughout each day. As clichéd as it may sound, communication during this time is essential to prevent little annoyances from becoming anger. So, before you get to that point, the best thing to do is have some empathy so you can find a compromise.

Open communication between couples is a key pillar of the healthiest relationships, and it surely is no different during times of crisis. With the amount of anxiety and stress everyone is under due to this pandemic, it is super important you both discuss your worries and fears. Suppressing your thoughts never improves the situation, and when you have some transparency between each other, it can strengthen the relationship even more.

Create new routines

With so much change over such a shortened period of time, it is imperative to adapt when trying to deal with the situation. The human brain works much better with the certainty and structure when we feel in control, and we know what to expect. In order to minimise clashes and avoid future conflicts, a more structured plan is essential so that you both know what each other has planned for the day.

Establish a new routine for you both with some simple tasks and recurring activities which can be arranged around commitments for both work and family. Set aside sometime each day with your loved ones for meals, work, exercise, and some quality couple time for intimacy together. Don’t forget it also needs to include some time apart to work on individual hobbies, so you can take turns watching children or spending time with any other family members in the home.

Give yourself some time alone

Actively making time for yourself during this time can rejuvenate your mind and reduce stress. Consider taking regular walks alone around the block each day or finding some space where you can engage in an activity that you enjoy without being disturbed. Communicating with your partner when you plan on having some space will help them understand how they can give you support so that you can both do the same when they need some alone time.

Sharing a physical space together with your partner for any extended amounts of time can often cause stress which increases pressure on the relationship. Without daily routines when one of both of you leave the home for work, the space you share may start to feel small, which can quickly escalate into irritation and arguments. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, you’re not going to have anything of much worth to offer your partner.

Practice empathy, gratitude and kindness

Empathy, kindness, and gratitude are three of the most important things that relationship experts want couples to practice during this time. Couples can ultimately become much stronger by doing what they can to understand how their partner is feeling, whereas showing gratitude is a powerful habit to establish that reduces any possible tensions.

Communicate openly and genuinely with each other, remembering to use empathy, and never make assumptions by trying to read their mind. In most cases you’ll find active listening is all that’s required to improve many situations. Ultimately, we’re all in this thing together, and no one wants silly arguments during this pandemic to end with breakups or divorce. Take a deep breath and just keep yourself in check whenever you feel the need to blame or criticise.

Plan for the future together

There’s never been a better opportunity than during a time of self-isolation and quarantine to discuss your future together with your partner. Discuss what the next steps are together after this whole crisis is over, and where your relationship should go afterwards. This will ensure you’re both on the same team and provide you both with a clear understanding of your intentions.

While the advice above may assist with the mitigation of major conflicts, never expect perfection in your relationship. These are extremely stressful times, so it’s almost inevitable that someone’s going to feel frustrated and lose their patience. Just remember that any bumps you come across in the road ahead are merely temporary, just like this pandemic. This is a marathon, not a sprint, so keep yourself focused on long-term goals. Compassion will go a long way as you both navigate these new and uncharted waters together.