For the past couple weeks, half of the country has been dealing with a steady steam of epic snowstorms—between the ice, snow, traffic nightmares, and comedically low temperatures, many of us haven't been able to leave the house for days. If you've been cooped up with your partner, you probably thought it was fun for the first day or two—you snuggled, made hot cocoa, played some board games, and commented on the "ethereal beauty" of the ice crystals coating the windows. But then . . . the marshmallows ran out, the other-wordly ice turned into muddy brown slush, and now the two of you are snapping at each other and generally counting the hours until you can go back to work.
Being trapped in a small place together for days at a time can feel a lot like an intensive couples' therapy workshop, so why not treat it like one? Here are 3 relationship issues that are often sparked by cabin fever, along with some tips on how to deal with them.
The Problem: Not Enough Alone Time
You've both been cooped up in the house together for days now, with no breaks from each other's company and no chance to breathe and recharge your batteries. Even dyed-in-the-wool extroverts need a little time to themselves, and when you're not getting it, crankiness and tension ensue.
The Solution: Be honest with each other about needing a little space. Don't wait until you hit your breaking point, either—be proactive about stating your needs in a loving, respectful way, and then go take a long bubble bath, read a book, watch some Real Housewives, do whatever it is you do when you are home alone and loving it . . . and let your partner do their own thing too.
Repeat as needed until your blood pressure drops back down to a normal level and you are excited to spend time together again.
The Problem: Too Much Intimacy
Intimacy and closeness are usually good things, but the kind of intimacy that involves not changing your pajama bottoms for 5 days and examining each other's blackheads with a magnifying mirror while watching a marathon of House Hunters is, well, not the good kind.
The Solution: When you feel yourselves sliding toward an unsavory level of comfort, change course by making a concerted effort to show your partner you don't take them for granted. Take a shower, put on real pants, and strike up a real conversation rather than grunting at the TV screen in unison. Turn off the TV for a few hours and make a nice dinner together (or as nice a dinner as you can assemble with whatever's left in your pantry). Light some candles and bust out the massage oil.
Use this mandatory together-time to rekindle some romantic je ne sais quoi.
The Problem: Stir Craziness
Too much time trapped inside has made your life feel like a painfully uneventful sequel to Girl, Interrupted, and your mood has deteriorated accordingly. You're snappy, irritable, and taking it out on your partner at every turn. How had you never noticed how infuriatingly loudly they sip their morning coffee? Or the socks always left on the living room floor? And the cereal bowls are in the mug cabinet?! Is the apartment shrinking? It must be shrinking. It wasn't always so small and cramped and claustrophobic and UUURRRGGHHH GET ME OUT OF HERE.
The Solution: Take ownership of your own feelings. Yes, your partner might be drawing your ire, but chances are you're just stir-crazy and amped up and projecting onto them. Count to 5 before reacting with anger (cliche, but it works!), and try to get some of that pent-up energy out in a non-destructive way. Jazzercise DVDs, yoga, and sex (or all of the above) are great options. If you slip up and lash out at your partner, say sorry right away, and offer them the same leniency.
Make this a habit, and when the snow finally melts, your relationship will be better for it.