Life’s normal challenges can wreak havoc on a couple’s relationship. Now imagine how damaging a pandemic of epic proportions can be, when our lives, liberties and financial stability are all at stake.

This Covid-19 crisis is either going to make or break your relationship, there is no doubt about it. You will either find that you absolutely cannot imagine a life after this without your partner, or you will want to exit as quickly as possible when this blows over. I really don’t see much room for feelings of ambivalence.

Those that took the time to build a solid friendship, where there is immense trust, respect and mutual affection have the best chance of weathering this storm. But they will still need to work hard to communicate and problem-solve well during these times of great uncertainty.

All of our priorities and values are being tested right now, as we contemplate what are true necessities and which jobs are actually “essential.” Most of our plans are either on hold for now or they are being drastically revised beyond our control.

Stressful situations tend to bring out the ugly side in people, especially those that lack good coping strategies.  Right now, the last thing anyone wants to be around at home is someone that is unkind, unhelpful, excessively morose, abusing drugs or alcohol to numb the pain, or just totally shutting down.  For now, there may not be much you can do until shelter in place restrictions are lifted, but soon thereafter I’m betting many will realize life is too short to put up with unnecessary b.s. and my divorce cases will pick up again.

Trying times can, however, bring to light a beautiful side in many.  I certainly appreciate my partner in a whole new way now than ever before. He (unlike me) is considered an essential medical provider, who is doing the best he can to keep his practice open to meet his patients’ needs while caring for everyone’s safety and trying to preserve his staff. For his own safety, I wish he would just close up shop, and we did argue about this, but ultimately I respect his decision to take it day by day, knowing he is doing the best he can to minimize the risks for everyone involved.

Right now, all we can do is take it one day at a time, and for the time being you may just have to wait and see how things play out in your relationship. Use this time wisely– pay attention to how you feel together. Is this person a calming influence, a source of strength, a good shoulder to cry on? Are you still able to make each other laugh? And, not to be crass, but how’s the intimacy between you? Really, right now you should be having some great apocalyptic sex.

Once we are past this, your heart will tell you whether your partner is a keeper, or if your relationship has reached its expiration date.  For now, just do the best you can to stay calm and remain safe.

By Regina A. DeMeo