This might sound crazy, but we’re going to put it out there: 2020 has been good for our relationships. Not just our relationship as a couple, but all of the meaningful relationships in our lives. Don’t get us wrong, it also put them to the test. We experienced tension, terse words, and probably a few arguments thrown in there, too. But we’ve now been in this long enough that we can pull back a bit and see things through a broader perspective.
Here are some of the positive effects on relationships we experienced this year.
We have a better understanding of quality time (vs. quantity).
Yep, many of us spent a lot of time with our partner/family this year. How much of that time would you classify as “quality” time? How much of it was simply time when you happened to be under the same roof, but you weren’t really connecting or enjoying each other’s company? Quality time takes effort and intention, even when quantity is plentiful and many of our options for distraction are taken away. We learned that 20 minutes of good conversation can do more for our relational and emotional wellbeing than two hours of zoning out looking at our phones.
We cherished non-text-based interaction.
Pre-pandemic, many of us would rather text than have an actual phone conversation. After months of working remotely or simply not being able to chat in person whenever we liked, we now appreciate the nuanced communication cues that come with a certain tone, inflection, or facial expression, or the warmth conveyed through a casual hug from a loved one. These are all opportunities for small moments of human connection that a text message can’t capture in quite the same way.
We learned how we can show up for our loved ones.
We’ve probably all had our share of emotional ups and downs this year. Sometimes we needed support, and sometimes we provided it. Whether it was weekly video chats with grandparents or cooking up our partner’s favorite comfort foods, we found ways to lift each other’s spirits and show our love in small, yet meaningful ways.
We strengthened our resilience muscles.
This year we had to flex and adapt. Our normal routines and daily lives were upended in ways we hadn’t experienced before. Special events and occasions were postponed, modified, or scaled back. We dealt with stress, disappointment, fear and uncertainty. But we powered on and found new, creative ways to connect, celebrate, and foster a sense of normalcy among our family and friends. This “bouncing back” is resilience in action.
Above all, we are grateful.
We are grateful for our partners, who sometimes made us want to pull out our hair in annoyance, but also pulled their weight and more as we navigated through times that felt chaotic. We are grateful for our family, friends, and coworkers, who listened, commiserated, encouraged, and laughed with us.
When so much of the familiar was stripped away, we were grateful for our relationships. We relied on them to keep us grounded and help keep things in perspective, to make us feel like we’re not alone in all of the craziness. We tend to get caught up in our own busy lives, and we take them for granted. And we might still do that from time to time. But this year brought us back to center and helped us focus on what was truly important. And we’re grateful for that reminder.